Module 6 – Countdown to the finale!

This is the final week of ETAP640, and I am very relieved that I have gotten this far! I am fairly certain that all of us in this course have accomplished more than we ever thought possible!

Maree could not have said it better, it has been an “incredible journey,” one with a beginning, middle and end. And, yes I am exhausted, to put it mildly. It is amazing what one can do if motivated.

One very obvious sign that this course is coming to and end, is that I need to scroll very far down on the home page to get to the this week’s module. This was a great reminder of how much material we have covered over these past few months in a fairly short amount of  time, very impressive! No doubt there was quality learning taking place throughout every module! Many hours were spent watching videos, reading articles, discussion posts, and developing our courses! I have never met Alex, our instructor, but I certainly feel like I have. Her presence was felt in every aspect of the course! It was very interesting to observe when our she would get involved in the discussion forums, and most of the time it was to bring them to a higher level, by forcing us to “dig deeper,” one of her favorite terms. She continuously challenged us throughout the course to take our learning to the next level, and it she definitely got good results!

But, the most obvious sign that the course is ending, is how far along we have all come regarding the creation of our courses. It seems like yesterday when they were nothing but mere shells. We have all developed and created well-designed, engaging courses! I have been very impressed by  the creativity of my peers.

There were many times that I had my doubts as to whether I was going to be able to keep up with the workload, course design activities, etc., but somehow 3 months later, everything seems like it has fallen into place for the most part. No doubt there were many speed bumps along the way, but Alex was very helpful in working many of them out when assistance was needed!

 So what knowledge did I gain? And how am measuring that knowledge transfer has taken place?

I will start with the web 2.0 tools we utilized during the course since engaging with them those first few weeks was a requirement. Getting everything properly configured  (thank heavens for Alex’s engaging videos), were the first challenges I encountered in the beginning. Who would have thought it was going to be so involved. I really loved using the web 2.0 tools in the course, Diigo, VoiceThread, Edublog, etc., and found them to great learning tools that kept me engaged thought out the course. I plan on staying in touch with the  Diigo community once this course ends. This will allow me to stay current with regard to educational topics, trends, etc.

The detailed videos throughout the course were indispensable. I learned an enormous amount from them and they were one of the reasons I was successful in developing and designing my course. They taught me how to use Moodle, the learning management system that our courses are designed in, which is another great benefit of this course. Of course the proof is in the pudding, but I am fairly confident that my attempt to create a worthwhile, engaging online class was successful. Extra added benefit is being able to zip up the class and take it with me!

One of the most important learning experience for me,was just being an active participant (student ) in this course, since it was such an excellent model of a  “rich and robust teaching and learning environment.”  There were abundant opportunities for student-student and student-instructor interaction since the course was designed to be learner, student and knowledge centered. The course promoted a “strong sense of class community” from day one with the numerous ice-breaking activities. I learned first hand about  “teaching presence,” and the importance of promoting lively discussion forums that encourage healthy discourse. I have learned from the course readings and from direct experience in this course, how the quality and quantity of teaching presence directly relates to a sense of community in the course. Larry Regan stated in his video on student engagement, “ Students feel the connection best with other students and the professor when engagement comes early and often.” I really learned the importance of this as a student in this course and tried to emulate this “best practice” in my online course by creating a sense of class community early on and throughout the course.

After doing a quick review of the Seven Principles for Good Practice (Chickering and Gamson), there is no doubt that our class incorporated all of these principles on a regular basis which resulted in a very effective and engaging learning environment where the students feel safe and are comfortable expressing themselves.

 Seven Principles:

  • Good practice encourages student-faculty contact.
  •  Good practice encourages cooperation among students.
  •  Good practice encourages active learning
  •  Good practice gives prompt feedback.
  •  Good practice emphasizes time on task.
  •  Good practice communicates high expectations.
  • Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

After reading and reflecting on Anne’s post this week on Michael Wesch’s “Vision of Students Today,” what stood out most for me, is that the students in the YouTube video are not really that different in what they want (need) from an education compared to what most of  us in this course want (need) from an education.  An educational experience that is relevant, student-centered, and engaging, and one that fosters learning in a supportive environment is what most students desire. Being able to participate in collaborative and active learning,  and sharing what we have learned is what makes education meaningful and fosters learning. It sounds so simple, yet it is certainly not the norm. Many web 2.0 tools are designed for student engagement, and they should be leveraged as much as possible.

From what I learned over the past few months, I was able to move from theory to practice and design an engaging, student/knowledge-centered course that encourages self-directed learning. This is a significant accomplishment and clearly illustrates some of the things I have learned from being a student in this course!

What would have helped your learning more?

Great question, and like Kelly, I was very overwhelmed with the magnitude of assignments per module.  I wondered a few times how many of us in the class were working full-time. Since the course is very demanding and time intensive making the time commitment should be well thought out to ensure you will be successful in the course;  juggling a full-time job and managing the course workload is not for the faint of heart.

Having a few less assignments per module  may have aided in my learning. This would have allowed me to focus more. A few times I didn’t know where to start. I also found some of the module layouts confusing. I actually missed a few assignments which was unusual for me. I am not sure if it was due to being overwhelmed, or the design of how the modules were structured. I like looking in one place to see what is required for the week, and not in a few different places. I also knew fairly early on that I would not be able to do everything 100% , just not enough  hours in the day.  Therefore, I found myself not participating in the discussion questions as much as I would have liked in order to get the other assignments done. This was unfortunate, but reality for me. Staying focused and managing my time well, were key to my success in this course!

And, how do you feel now?

Looking back, I learned an incredible amount and am feeling very positive  about all of my accomplishments. My golf game suffered, but small sacrifice for what I gained, and if this course assists me with employment opportunities in the instructional design field, then I will be extremely grateful!!

Now back to revising my Women &  Money Management course and incorporating all the changes from the feedback!  Hopefully I can make the deadline!



Module 5 – Week 2- Refining Continues!!

Module 5 evolves

The past week has flown by and a lot has been accomplished in terms of refining my course. It actually is starting to look like a real course which is very exciting!

There was so much to do, I felt very overwhelmed much of the week, but did manage to get it done. Discussion questions were re-written a few times with the goal of engaging the student while giving them ample opportunities to interact with the course content.  The course review exercise provided me with numerous suggestions on what I needed to add to my course in order to improve the look, feel, and content while making it more learner-centered. Making sure I was cultivating a sense of community throughout the course was very deliberate  in the design of my modules, discussion and blog assignments. I was continuously referencing many of our course readings and videos, such as  Pickett’s  “What Works in Instructional Design” and the YouTube video on “Social Presence.” These videos illustrated how social, cognitive and teaching presence all overlap. Integrating all of this into learning activities becomes the challenge for instructional designers.

In order to challenge the students cognitively and keep them engaged I needed to create activities that would be interactive and engaging. Alex pointed me in the right direction when she suggested I look into using Mindbloom, an interactive life game. Mindbloom, created in 2008, “is a powerful way for people to improve the quality of their lives.” Incorporating this game into the course and other interactive exercises helped me achieve a more learner-centered and engaging course. I am hoping that many of the assignments, Podcasts, videos, etc., that I am using throughout the course will be thought provoking and engaging and therefore will stimulate active learning. Also , I only designed into my course activities  and exercises that I myself would find interesting and worthwhile to do. Why ask the students to do an assignment that I would not enjoy doing? I  used this criteria throughout the design of the course.

Listening to the “rock stars” of online learning and was very encouraging, and a great opportunity to hear instructors from Chile, Manitoba  (George Siemens) Vermont (Bryan Alexander), etc., chat about student engagement and discuss “How to Engage the Online Learner.” Each one of them had something new, different and interesting to add to the conversation. I enjoyed listening to each one of them. They were engaging and I felt excited to have had the opportunity to share their knowledge and experience regarding engaging the online learner.

Many of the instructor’s techniques for engaging the online learner were methods we had covered throughout our course. Hearing these mini chats made me realize how much we have learned these past few months!  Here are some of the highlights from the instructor’s discussions on engaging the online student:

  • There is a complexity of Web 2.o tools, that is can get overwhelming, but they  definitely increase the quality of class interactions, and engagement, (Siemens, George).
  • Engage the students early and often, students felt the connections best with other students when the engagement came early and often. Engagement is critical therefore you  must design for it, again….early and often (Regan, Larry).
  • Discussion groups all help engage, make sure you plan them into design of the course. They help move learning from passive to active (Regan, Larry).  And the connection with the learner needs to be planned.
  • Storytelling can be a very powerful tool for engagement as well as gaming, (Alexander, Bryan). Alexander also discussed why video discussions have not really become more popular as a mode of interaction in the online classroom. He felt that they have not caught on for some of the following reasons:
    • people get nervous
    • possible bandwidth issues
    • students might think they are weird and avoid them
    • people are uncomfortable with videos of themselves
  • Oakley engages  his students by creating a weekly Podcast since he feels that listening to  his voice is more interesting than  having the course entirely text-based. Oakely creates YouTube videos of himself and puts his lectures online. I tend to agree with him, I think this is a great idea. Early on in our course I asked Alex if there were any Podcasts created of our readings, etc. Besides being engaging the Podcasts would help me utilize my time more effectively. I could listen to them in the car, when I exercise, etc.
  • Oakley also spoke about how he engages his students by having them pick their own topic and write on how it impacts their own life. This assignment provides his students with a sense of ownership and  personalizing the writing assignment. He stated this activity really engaging the students with the course content. Oakley feels that this  a very effective learning centered activity, and one they feel is very engaging.
  • The  instructor from Chile (I was not able to pick up her name) stressed community in the classroom between student and teacher and between student-student. She talked about learning from each other and sharing experiences.
  • JJ who designs courses for military personnel stressed designing courses to keep the learner engaged through active learning by establishing a sense of community from the beginning of the course with videos and written introductions. I think the videos are a great idea and would like to add this to my course. JJ mentioned William Horton and his book, E-Learning by Design,  “absorb- do-connect.”  It is the responsibility of teacher and designer to design purposeful activities that students can  “absorb-do and connect with, he stated.” Create discussions that care lively and engaging and create active learning and meet the course outcomes. JJ uses short videos on YouTube for course announcements and sometimes uses avatars. JJ seems to have incorporated into his courses many excellent ways of engaging his students.
  • Michele discussed building an online community with social media and web 2.0 tools.  She discussed personalized learning vs. instructor centered and how she teaches using web 2.0 tools to create student-centered activities. One activity that she uses in her course to engage her students having them vote for the best blog in terms of design and content. Michelle felt that this blog contest generates positive competition and engages the students; she commented that they really seem to like it. The “blog contest” seemed like and an excellent and creative way of to engage the students and create a  sense of community in the course, and a very easy activity to setup. After listening to her chat I decided to use the “blog contest” in my Women & Money Management Course.

Listening to these instructors and hearing their enthusiasm for teaching online, engaging the online learner with many new creative activities, was a very worthwhile learning experience!




Module 5 – Week :1 Refine! Refine! Refine!


First of all, I survived the week! I actually was able to visit  my Mom in Brooklyn last weekend and still get a lot done! Have iMac, will travel! Though right now I feel “so close, yet so far” with regards to feeling satisfied with my course. The fact that it was practically 110 degrees out was in a way helpful, who wanted to go out anyway. So there I was, glued to the dining room table most of the weekend working away. The nice part of it was that I was able to share some of the things we are doing in the course with my Mom…along with my frustration, stress, elation, etc. It was great to show her the courses everyone is designing, and  she was quite impressed! The last time I visited was when the course just started which was the first week in June. Time is flying by now that I am looking back!

I am very happy that I have  made it to this point!The most surprising part of this learning experience is how certain components are much more intricate and complicated to get right, much more than I had imagined. The part I struggled with the most were the discussion and blog assignments. The course content was fairly straight forward, but creating engaging questions around the topic of personal finance was challenging and I am still refining them. The process has certainly given me an incredible perspective into the world of teaching, and my respect for teachers has grown enormously! Moving from theory to practice has been quite an undertaking but the way Alex has designed this course was really quite ingenious! We were creating courses through each and every module, thought we might not have fully realized it until we were midway through the course. At this point a lot of it seems surreal!

I don’t even want to know out how many hours I put into the design and development of my course shell. All I know is that it was a lot!! I am hoping I have developed an designed an engaging, interactive and educational course that incorporates social, cognitive and teaching presence, ONLINE COMMUNITY OF INQUIRY REVIEW: SOCIAL, COGNITIVE, AND TEACHING PRESENCE ISSUES (Garrison). I tried to very hard to approach the design of my course in an learner-centered way,  and for the student  that might be taking their first online course. After reading the Build chapter from our course manual and listening to the interview with Prof. Pelz’s, I tried to keep the design  simple throughout my course,  having all of the information a click or two away and making sure that everything I am expecting the students to do is clearly stated (though I probably need to work continue on this in some of my modules).

After conducting my course review I feel that I have come a long way, but have  lot more to do before I am really satisfied with the content, discussion questions, etc. I am looking forward to refining it this week with most of the course tructure in tact.  The refining process seems to go on and on. I am hoping to have a fresh set of eyes take a look at the course, I think this would be very helpful. Feedback from another person would be very helpful!

I was just reading some of my peers blogs and I can definitely relate to how Heather feels about technology. I can’t say that I love all technology just for technology sake, but I love learning new tools that are useful and enhance learning. This course has given me an excellent opportunity to do that. Tools such as diigo, Voice Thread, etc. are great learning tools, and I am thrilled that we had the opportunity to use them.  I think they really added value to the course. And thanks to Heather I just checked out Padlet.

All in all it was an intense learning process, but a great educational experience to go through. I think we should all be very proud of ourselves that we have gotten this far!

I only got through about four of the “Rock Star” interviews, but so far they were all very good and engaging (I was not surprised about that). I hope to complete the rest of them in the coming week. I especially liked the George Siemens interview. I felt he was very engaging and I agreed with his position regarding web 2.0 tools. He stated that “Tools increase the quality of interaction and its amazing how quickly you can learn to use these tools. And they might not increase learning but the potential is there.”


Module 4 concludes- this week certainly flew by!

This week has been an extremely busy one to put it mildly. Lots of late nights!! Many course activities: participating in the discussion forums, finishing up the readings, listening to interviews with exemplary course instructors, and last but not least…working on my course. The Build chapter in our manual & Alex’s Sloan C Breeze presentation on Teaching presence & Class Community, were excellent resources for us to follow when developing our courses. There is an incredible amount of detailed information on creating teaching presence, best practices in online learning, examples of assignments, etc. All of these resources provided us with best practices for developing and designing our courses. Seeing firsthand our courses shells become full fledged courses was very exciting. Their was definitely a good amount of frustration since I want to do so much in the course but time was a determining factor.

I am finding that everything is taking much longer than anticipated. I am seeing that consistency in my course design is extremely important, therefore I am paying close attention to that in regard to all of my modules. Having a consistent interface makes a very big difference to the online student, and I know this from first hand experience. Knowing what to expect and where to look for assignments each week, such as activities, etc., makes the online experience much more satisfying. I am also putting a good deal of time into the introduction of the course and the ice-breaking activities since this will set the stage for the learner and start to give the students a sense of community.  Establishing a sense of community from day 1 provides the online student with a reassurance that they are not alone out there . Using ice-breaking activities during the first week is almost like going through orientation when you first start college.

Teaching presence is something that has to permeate through the entire course. I keep going back to the main components that make up teaching presence to ensure that I am staying on track. This has been difficult since it is hard to find the right mix of not providing the students with all of the information so that you can have them take charge of their own learning. As Pelz does so well in his Psychology courses. One of Pelz’s weekly assignments is for his students to choose a topic from the textbook that interests them, research it, and then present the findings to the course. This is an excellent example of teaching presence and self-directed learning, since he has his students interact directly with the course content, become experts on a particular topic while cultivating a sense of community.

I am finding that most of the articles on the internet having to do with teaching presence & best practices for online teaching and learning are all basically covering the same information as the resources we have in our assigned readings on these same topics. I am not finding much new information, but rather confirming best practices in online learning.

Pickett, Shea & Pelz”s SUNY article, etc., Build chapter from course manual provide excellent guidelines for building teaching presence into our courses and engaging the student to allow them to have a very positive and rewarding online learning experience. I have learned that it does not happen by chance, but must be very carefully designed into the structure of the course. “Why is presence so important in the online environment? When faculty actively interact and engage students in a face-to-face classroom, the class evolves as a group and develops intellectual and personal bonds. The same type of community bonding happens in an online setting if the faculty presence is felt consistently.” (Reis, 2010).

What do you know now that you did not know before? How are you applying what you have learned so far to your own course? What decisions have you made about how you present yourself, your content, and how you will engage and interact with your students and assess them in your own online course?

This week is the final week we have to build our course. After listening to Alex’s feedback, which consisted of positive as well as constructive criticism. I will need to revise my forum and blog assignments for most of my modules. Alex felt that the forum questions I formulated did not relate directly relate to the module objectives, and the were also not open ended enough, I had too many questions that basically could be answered with a yes/no. Initially I thought this was going to be one of the easier things to do, as it turns out, creating engaging thoughtful questions for the discussion and blog posts turned out to be one much harder than anticipated. At this point I am really not 100% happy with them. Since they can always be revised I will review them again when we get into our next phase of the course, revise!! Seems like I get my best ideas when I am driving, but not very conducive to writing things down.

Another new concept for me was the definition of “learning activities.” It was definitely a new way of thinking for me, and I needed to adjust the way I looked at assignments and activities that both on and offline. All of the activities I am requiring the students to participate in should be designed to be as engaging and interactive as I can make them. This is definitely one of the more challenging aspects of designing the course.

“What is a Learning Activity? In this step you will identify, organize, and create the learning activities and related documents for each of the modules in your course. In an online environment a “Learning Activity” is everything your students do in your course–the online and offline tasks and assignments. Whether they read a journal article, a textbook chapter, your lecture, write paper or an essay, participate in a discussion, take a test, give a presentation, conduct a survey, do an observation, run an experiment and so on–these are all learning activities.” (Pickett, 2008).


Module 4 – My head is spinning!

Teaching Presence & Best Practices

This week we concentrated on learner-centered, knowledge-centered, assessment-centered and cultivating a sense of community in our online courses – best practices. Presenting content in an engaging &  effective way for the student is what we all need to strive for in our courses. These best practices were some of the main objectives of the week’s readings, videos, presentations, posts, etc. We are also continuing to learn more about ourselves as educators, and how we will project a positive and engaging online presence to the learners.

As we work through the next phase of our courses we need to be very cognizant of the online environment & audience we are developing our courses for. There is not  much you can take for granted in creating an online course, I am really starting to grasp this concept. Everything the   students need to do, must  be designed and developed into the LMS that you are working with.

Having been a student in an online education and technology program, you would think I would have had a better concept of  what it takes to design & create an online course, but I did not have a very realistic picture. The planning alone, mapping out the activities, rubrics, assessment, introductory materials, etc. takes an enormous amount of time, effort  thought.

I guess there is no better way to learn than by doing! But before we begin to build our actual courses, there are key concepts that we must understand, these will assist  in creating an engaging, well-designed, knowledge-centered class.  A course that will challenge the learner in such a way that it will encourage active learning, learner-centered. The goal, according to the 7 Principles of Good Practice, is to have high levels of student engagement throughout the course.

As I go through this process I keep asking myself… would I want to take this class? Would I hold my attention? What would make it more engaging & appealing?  How will I demonstrate teaching presence? Will the course be learner-centered, knowledge centered, assessment-centered. Will the students feel a sense of community from the day one?

What I have learned thus far in the course, and especially in the past week, that applies directly to the design of my course, that  in order to engage the learner, the materials need to be presented in way that captures the attention & imagination of the student, and they need to be able to relate personally to the material, and it  has to be relevant for them. Utilizing web 2.0 tools and other online learning activities (such as minbloom that Alex suggested) will no doubt add make the course more interactive, engaging and therefore more satisfying for instructor & student. Incorporating enough of these types of activities into the course has definitely been challenging. There are numerous web 2.o tools out there, but having the time to research, test them out, etc. has been another hurdle. Only so many hours in the day!

What has also been very challenging has been the logically grouping of the material throughout the  course. I have moved content around in modules, moved modules around, re-wrote learning activities, and on and on, and will continue to do so.  After getting excellent feedback from Alex on the learning activity assignment in module 3, I will need to go back and re-write many of my discussion and blog questions. Her comments & feedback made a lot of sense, so back to the drawing board! It is going to be a very long week!!

I compare my role in creating this  course to that of a film director, plenty of re-writes and takes before it is ready prime time; and is it ever really completed? This also goes for my learning, which is also an on-going process. If it were to be stop I would become stagnant.  I have learned that for every decision you make, regarding the content, design, learning activities, etc., they should be meaningful to the student and provide them with some educational benefit. There should never be an opportunity for the learner to say “why do we have to learn  or do this.” It should be very apparent to them.

I have been very humbled going through the design & development process of my course. I have learned a great deal but feel like there is so much more I  need to learn in order to have an end product that I am satisfied with…an engaging, interactive class that has worthwhile content & and is enjoyable.  The challenges go on and on…

Some concepts from the week’s content to keep in  mind while designing and developing our courses:

“How People Learn” Alex Pickett’s Sloan-C Presentation.
Teaching  presence:

  1. facilitating discord
  2. direct instruction
  3. instructional design and organization

7  Principles of Good  Practice in Online Teaching & Learning

Helping to create and sustain teaching presence –A Follow-up Investigation of “Teaching Presence” in the SUNY Learning Network, JALN, Volume 7, Issue 2 – July 2003, Peter J. Shea, Alexandra M. Pickett, and William E. Pelz.

  1. What is teaching presence?
  2. How do we  measure or identify teaching presence in an online course?
  3. What are some design features that can enhance teaching presence?
  4. How can we improve teaching presence?

Hedy (3)

There might be light at the end of this tunnel! Module 3 concludes!

Very long and interesting two weeks:

Utilizing all of the resources that I had at my disposal, course articles, videos, web, textbooks from prior courses, I begun to develop and design my  learning activities. It was quite time intensive since I was designing everything from scratch. Had I previously taught this class, the assignment may have been a somewhat less challenging. Though they say that developing an online course is very time intensive and I can vouch for that. And we have only just begun….

As I go through the development process I am trying to keep a few things in mind: speak to one student, make the course more engaging by incorporating a friendly overtone, and design exercises that really challenge the student and engage them. I am hoping the modules are not too cut and dry, but as Alex stated, nothing is set in stone. I would like to incorporate activities that are fun and educational, not as easy as it sounds. I did add in mindbloom exercise that Alex suggested, which look great. As I work through the development process I am sure I will be revising many of the course learning activities  & adding  more of these type of fun and engaging activities.
What I find most interesting & ironic, is the emphasis online education puts on student engagement, interactivity and building a sense of community, a focus , that was never really important in traditional f2f college courses. It seemed to not really matter. An entire semester could go by, and if you only said a few words to your professor it was not unusual. Online learning (if designed effectively) puts the student first…interaction, student engagement,  and learning activities that allow deeper learning is the crux of distance education courses. The goal is to get the student involved, excited and passionate about the subject matter, & then interact with the course content at a high level through reflection, analysis, questions, etc. If this occurs with most of the student then I would consider the course a success! No doubt we have all become obsessed (for lack of a better word) with student engagement, teacher presence, and becoming facilitating freaks.  All of the course materials, videos, sample online courses, etc. have had a profound affect on us; it is very obvious by reading the week’s discussion posts.

Some of the main themes of the week from posts and readings (there were so many but here are a few):

Engage the student and then engage them some more.

This video really captures the youth of today.  “This project was created to inspire teachers to use technology in engaging ways to help students develop higher level thinking skills. Equally important, it serves to motivate district level leaders to provide teachers with the tools and training to do so.” “A Vision of K-12 Students Today”

Moving from teacher-centered learning to learner-centric teaching. Liz moving from information giver to information facilitator.

Learning to let go – giving up control & becoming a facilitator freak (Kevin)

Learn to learn

Quantity and quality of student-teacher, student-student interactions, the more the better.

Echnoheutogogy (Liz) taken from Bill Pelz’s article, the influence of technology

Thinking is not driven by answers but by questions, taken from The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking and Learning

Moving from inner Vader (teacher centered) to Yoda (student centered) – Luke and Kevin

“Letting your students do most of the work,”My Three Principles of Online Pedagogy,” B. Pelz, taken from Kelly’s post.

Facilitating recourse -encouraging, acknowledging, or reinforcing student contributions – Shea, Fredericksen, Pickett & Pelz (2003), taken from Mary’s post.

“The  level of interaction within an online course between the students and teachers was found to be a significant factor in the effectiveness of the course,” according to a study by Offir, Lev & Bezalel (2006), Maree’s post. (3)

7 Effective Ways to Learn-Pickett

  • “Appreciate and acknowledge the efforts by students.”
  • Cannot underestimate the power of a kindly word from an instructor-has a lot of power, words have tremendous power and lasting impact.”
  • “Teaching, Cognitive & Social presence (class community) all overlap and are ultimately needed to have an effective online course.”
  • “Establish trust through sense of community.”

Keys to Success – Picket
“Teaching online will energize and transform how teachers teach in the classroom.”



Module 3 week one- where do I begin?

Still trying to keep my head above water! I am learning a great deal from the other students, readings, videos, articles and Alex and her videos and no doubt my head is spinning. I go to sleep thinking about this course and wake up thinking about it. Am I obsessing too much? All I know is there are not enough hours in the day.

One of the articles that really made an impression on me was Bill Pelz’s “(My) Three Principles Of Effective Online Pedagogy.” As  I read through the article, and I really enjoyed this writing style,  I was able to see how the evolution he went through regarding adapting his teaching style and mindset once he began teaching online. I believe he really understands what student-teacher and student-student engagement really is from personal experience. “Putting students in charge of their own learning”  one of his main themes, seems so simple, yet it really had an impact on me. The article, “The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking and Learning” was also very relevant to everything we are learning.  This week we started to bring our courses to life naming our  modules and developing and designing the learning activities. Both articles talk about “effective online pedagogy” and now I am challenged with incorporating everything I learned this week into the design of  my course. With the focus on the student and keeping in mind that “thinking is not driven by answers but by questions” from the “The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking and Learning” I am striving to come up with questions that will engage the students as much as possible. For some reason I am thinking that a course on money management will not lend itself to high levels of student engagement, since the topic is fairly dry. But if the right teaching approach is taken, most any topic, if presented correctly can come across as interesting and engaging. On the flip side the most fascinating material can bore one to tears if the course content is not engaging and the learner can not relate to it in some way. So a lot depends on how I present the course material, the more interactivity I can bring into the class the more satisfying it will be for me as well as the students.

Alex’s videos as well as the PSU World Campus videos were all very informative.  liked that we were introduced to instructors from all over the world. I enjoyed listening to different perspectives on online teaching and learning.  The following are just some key points from Alex’s YouTube video’s that I identified with (though there were many more):

  • the importance of incorporating social, teaching and cognitive presence in a course
  • importance of building trust
  • creating a comfortable online environment where students can ask questions and not feel intimidated
  • the importance of giving compliments ( I couldn’t agree more) & appreciating and acknowledging efforts by students
  • not underestimating the power of a kind word from an instructor
  • be explicit about everything (do not take anything for granted)
  • am I giving my students the best opportunity to learn

These will be excellent guidelines for my course!

I will pick up next time on the “Keys To Success: Are You Ready ” presentation. What very memorable comment from Alex having a “passion for teaching” as a criteria for being an effective online instructor. Alex definitely gets a 10 in that category!


(My) Three Principles Of Effective Online Pedagogy retrieved June 2013 from

The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking and Learning retrieved June 2013 from

What I learned this week in the world online learning

Conclusion of Module 2
The weeks are flying by! I continue to be frustrated, wishing I have gotten more accomplished and was further along with development of my online course. I am definitely getting stressed out about being able to complete everything on time. So much to do, sometimes I do not even know where to start! Time is definitely a factor! Having been an online student for many years, and having gotten my masters in Education, Technology and Leadership, I am dumbfounded at how much there is to learn. At times it seems endless. Since I have an incredible love of learning ( inherited from both of my parents) I guess I chose the right field!

I just read some of the other blogs and felt a little better when I read this from Liz Keeney, “I am working very hard on every assignment that is asked of us but I feel like I cannot do anything right. Am I the only one feeling this way?” Nope, she is definitely not the only one feeling this way! Thanks Liz for being so honest!

I continue to be very impressed with the high level of conversation in the discussion forums. Since I am not a teacher I cannot directly relate to some of  the on-going discussions, but I am learning a tremendous amount from my classmates.

Much if what I learned these past few weeks I can definitely apply to my course such as the following key points from Breeze presentation:
– Assume nothing
– Be as clear and consistent as possible
– Use conversational tone
–  Be very clear for every assignment
– Make a private communications area available for students ( though I an not sure how this will be done)
– The highest prediction of overall student satisfaction of online courses is the quality and quantity of interaction between student and student and student and instructor
– Elicit feedback throughout the course (have a dedicated area for this in the course) and try and incorporate student feedback into the course if possible
– Be primarily concerned with meeting learning objectives
– Not everything has to take place in an online course (simple concept but very important to keep in mind)
– How will students be evaluated, how will feedback be given?
– Use chunking in course: topics, chapters, etc.
– Every module should be consistent

  • Begin with overview
  • Then list activities, due dates, readings, etc.
  • List how students will be evaluated
  • Provide instructional cues (where to go to on site find assignments, videos). Basically provide a roadmap of the course

– Customize everything to your personality (I thought this was an excellent suggestion)
– Use meaningful titles
– Provide consistent and meaningful feedback throughout course
– Provide ample opportunities for students to engage and interact with instructor and other students in course
– The need to re-conceptualize course for online environment (I could not agree more)

I really enjoyed reading “A Series of Unfortunate Online Events and How to Avoid Them” by Alexandra Picket. It was written with a great style and the humor interjected throughout made for a very entertaining yet effective article. Instructor, professors, etc. reading this article will definitely come away with a feeling that converting a f2f course to an online environment will take a 180 degree about face. Everything in the article makes a good deal of sense.

The main premise of the article is assume nothing. The Atrocious Assumptions were a great way to start. Every one of the bullet points I found to be true. Alex gets extremely detailed in the article, leaving no stone unturned. If half of the professors follow these guidelines, distance learning will be that much more effective!

The emphasis on the importance of “discussion posts” and students’ contributions and interactions throughout the course was emphasized in the article. I think many instructors that are new to online learning need to know how important active engagement is. It really is the blood that flows through the arteries for an online course. On-going, active engagement of s-s and s-i cannot be stressed enough! “Requiring active participation and interactivity engages every student in the online course so that they all must read, reflect, explain, defend, refute, question, self-asses…”

This is exactly how Alex runs our ETAP 640 course. She walks the walk, and talks the talk, to the nth degree.

So much more to write, I could probably do on for a lot longer but there are only so many hours in the day. On to module 3! My stress level just went up!!



Module 2 reflection

Module 2 begins

I received excellent feedback on my course profile from Alex and  I am in the process of incorporating the suggestions into my profile for my online course on Women & Investing in order to make it more engaging to the leaner. I came across a useful site that discussed student engagement in online course. The article highlights some Web 2.o tools that can be used for students group activities. I think that Google Docs and VoiceThread tools will be great to use in the course. Alex suggested incorporating financial planning games into the learning activities in order to increase the amount of student engagement, making it more learn-centered, great idea.

Second week of module 2

Liz posted a very thought provoking article on how the online educator plays  a major role when it comes to providing quality feedback to learners, one of the main themes of module two.

An excellent article written in 1997 that Mary posted by Bob Price. His main focus of the is what constitutes quality feedback from distance learning tutors, instructors, etc. and how critical quality feedback is in distance learning.
One model of a tutor role is Daloz who made these observations in 1986, years before distance learning was in the forefront as it is today. His theories on elearning are quite similar to many of today’s theories regarding the importance of engaging the students in discussions are challenging and cause reflection. Daloz believes this is how real learning takes place.
He states,  “Challenging the learner by creating a gap between what the learner’s know and what they might yet know. Tutor invites student to close the gap by settling tasks, engaging in discussion that offers alternative perspectives to students’ own.”

After I read this a light went off in my head, our Professor is doing exactly this. We are being continuously challenged to learn in a much deeper way than I am use to, such as when Alex comments on our posts and asks us to “dig deeper.” We are being asked to re-think many of the traditional ways that student’s learn and teacher’s teach and this is what is making the class so valuable and interesting!

I am learning more than I ever expected on how to create and develop the most interactive and engaging online course by utilizing different teaching methodologies, Web 2.0 tools, discussion forums, etc.

“Defining quality student feedback in distance learning,” retrieved June 2013 from





Hedy’s blog

Module 1 (1st week of class)

This is the first week of ETAP 640 and we are just barely beginning but I feel like I have already learned a great deal. I am a bit overwhelmed with getting to know Moodle and sorting out the new web 2.0 tools, but I am also delighted to be learning all of these new technologies.

I will be finalizing my online course topic in the next few days. I am leaning towards Women and Finance, but I am not sure if I should restrict it to just women.

Second Week of  Course:

I am being exposed to many new learning theories & terms as well as brushing up some theories that I had already been familiar with many of the terms and . It is reassuring to see that not many of the learning theories and terms that I am familiar with are still relevant. This week we learned about self-efficacy (Bundara) , self-regulation and andragogy (Knowles). These were all new adult learning theories that I had not been exposed to.

Maree Michaud-Sacks posted a very interesting concept of  moving from andragogy (study of adult learning) to heutagogy (new term for me).  Heutagogy is basically the study of self-determined learning ,and more suited to 21st century learning than andragogy. It shifts the learning from teacher-centered to a student-centered model. Heutagogy does make a lot of sense, especially for distance learning students.

Wrap-Up of Module 1

I finished up my written course profile this week. I also did the online skills self-assessment, which was interesting to take. I think many of us (and I am believe my fellow students &  peers would agree) take the computer skills we possess for granted. Even though the skills self-assessment quiz asked questions about basic computer skills, many adults and teenagers may not be computer savvy for lack of training and access. That led me to think about the digital divide and if progress is being made to overcome the gaps regarding who has access to high-speed internet, smartphones, etc. I am fairly certain the digital divide is still a very relevant and pressing issue.

I enjoyed doing the course profile, though afterward I started thinking of numerous things I wish I had added in to my modules. In, retrospect course development has to be a work in progress, they can always be improved upon. I am hoping that we will be able to make changes to our modules, learning activities, etc. as we go through the next phases of developing them. The profile assignment illustrated that an incredible amount of energy and time go into creating a well designed online course. And instructors that have never used Moodle to create an online course have an additional challenge.