Friday, May 10, 2013
Tuesday, February 19, 2013
"As an instructor, I want to structure my class so that the students still have a life. As a student, I want to have a life. What is the best balance between discussion (and requiring students to participate throughout the week) and allowing students the flexibility they need and want from an online class?"
Here was my response with some added thoughts which came to me after I sent her the original response...
You have pointed out one of the difficulties of teaching online. We cannot just put a note on the door and say "Class is cancelled today." And I do understand that everyone needs a life.
This class (Collaborative Communities) is a little different in terms of expectations because we are trying to build the habits needed to be a successful online instructor after this course most of you will be doing the practicum. The instructor habits we want to instill in this course have everyone online and visible more than the students have to be in a regular class.
I have taught online for 11 years. I have been through a separation, then later a divorce. My mother died unexpectedly two years ago and my father has advanced Alzheimer's. Even though he is in a care facility it takes a lot of my time. So... how do I keep up with my duties and have a life (or a crisis). First of all in a worst case scenario I would first contact my incredible boss and friend Joan Vandervelde at UW-Stout for my courses there. She would post a note in my courses and then she would cover my discussions or ask another instructor to do so. A good choice for that coverage would be my co-author Lisa Chamberlin. I haven't ever had to ask either of them to do that but I know it is possible. I would handle other institutions for whom I work in a similar way.
At a crisis time, I would try to use my online time very judiciously, read the Q&A's to check for issues if I don't have time for anything else. I would read at least Q&A forums in every class every day. No matter what else is going on I stay current on email because I use my phone for emails. Even in a crisis I would look at my email. Emails requiring a response I don't have time for right away get marked as Unread.
Sometimes I tell students by email or announcement about an issue, and sometimes I don't. I will say though that even in very serious times I have found that finding a quiet spot for just 30 minutes and checking the discussion boards gives me some peace and normality.
As a student all you need to do is tell the instructor the issue and I think all/most of them would waive deadlines or participation requirements. As an instructor you do what you can, or what you really have to do, and let the rest wait. There does come a time when you have to get caught up though. The longer you let it wait the more challenging it becomes to get caught up.
There is another discussion to be had about participation requirements in general and offering alternatives, that will be another posting.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Lt. Wm B. Johnson
Columbus AFB, Miss.
Mr. & Mrs. Henry L. Vincent
Walla Walla, Washington
In my Grandmother's handwriting it says: Very Special
23 January 1954
Dear Mom and Dad:
I know you will probably have some sort of stroke after receiving a letter from me, but I wanted to start the New Year off right by writing my yearly letter early. Just kidding, of course, but it really has been almost a year and a half since I've written a letter to you. It doesn't seem possible, but it is pretty damn close. I have always meant to write many times before, but Marj does very well in doing the correspondence -- just as she does everything else. She is really doing an exceptional job in her duties as vice-president of the wives club and as chairman for the March of Dimes. I am really proud of heer and I know you are also.
Both of us are anxious to get home and start farming and, of course, settle down in our own house. I really hope that you didn't receive the impression that we were not interested in the house, because we really are looking forward to
Unfortunately the regulation mentioned in your last letter concerning Bud Roffler is strictly a army regulation and still worse would not apply to me if the Air Force had one. Since by law we (ROTC officers) have to serve a minimum of 2 years.
Well time is drawing short and I had better sign off. But before I do there is one more thing I have to say. I hope you notice the first words of this letter, "Dear Mom and Dad," because I have really considered both of you to be the wonderful people that I would like to have for a mother and father. I am truly sorry for being so reticent when it comes to calling both of you by Mom & Dad, but those words have never been used by me that I can remember, so it has been
All my love,
Monday, February 4, 2013
As I scrolled down I quickly saw this was not someone I wanted showing up in my professional Twitter stream. The messages went something like this:
- Article about online learning and MOOC's at ...
- Oh, honey I miss you so much, hurry back.
- So sad you are leaving on your trip.
- Article about math education and parent involvement at ...
- Kissy, kissy what a nice morning we had, and we only fight about the little things.
My Twitter feed is my professional face, my brand, my forum to the eLearning and education worlds. Colleagues and students can count on mostly professional tweets with the occasional personal commentary. The ratio of my personal to professional messages is about 1:100. I think my followers can handle scrolling past the very occasional sports comment or shared recipe.
I have separate Facebook accounts for personal and professional uses as well, not so much because what I share on the personal side needs to be secret. I just don't think my professional colleagues care about my grandchildrens' antics. Those colleagues who are also friends of mine have been invited to both accounts. Students and most colleagues are only invited to the professional account. I also have separate blogs. There is this blog for professional writing (which needs to happen more often) and a personal blog for recipes, hobbies, and sharing personal angst.
What it really comes down to is respect for other peoples' time. My students and general colleagues don't have time to scroll through all my personal thoughts and shared images to find the gems about eLearning. I respect their time, and I respect my time enough to divest myself of folks on Twitter who don't understand the need to separate personal from professional streams. Needless to say, I unfollowed the person within minutes of following her.
Monday, July 2, 2012
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
My daughter @meganbowe helped the brilliant Aaron Silvers organize the Up To All of Us "unconference" which was held this past weekend. It was by invitation only. Just a small brain trust of very smart people were invited.
Here are some of the writing and resources which came out of the #utaou meetings. I followed along all weekend via the Twitter hashtag. Anything which includes meeting locations such as "at the firepit" or "by the creek" had to have been an awesome experience! I am envious!
Most of the people have something to do with instructional design but I will let Jay Cross explain this in the blog posting which is the first link
Great explanation of what they learned/how/worked on/why from @jaycross http://www.jaycross.com/wp/2012/02/the-designers-toolkit/
Storify - collection of tweets from #utaou from @chambo_online http://storify.com/chambo_online/the-unconference-of-uptoallof-us
Backchannel resources curated by the wonderful @LnDDave http://davidkelly.me/2012/02/up-to-all-of-us-backchannel-collected-resources-utaou/
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Think back to 4th grade state reports of decades past (oh I hope they are in the past!)... did students "cheat" on those? Did they plagiarize from the encyclopedia? Of course they did! Why? Because the state report was a terrible assignment. It was poorly planned. There was no real thinking about/with the information in order to meet the goals of the assignment. Regurgitate state flower, state motto, population...
Where the information comes from has changed, the need for excellence in lesson planning has not. If we don't want students to cheat and plagiarize we have to do our part as teachers.
We have to plan assignments which require students to Evaluate the information they come across, Analyze it's usefulness in completing the assignment and Synthesize into something uniquely their own. Note that the three verbs are from Bloom's taxonomy but they are slightly rearranged. My co-author and friend Lisa Chamberlin and I call this EASy. See this presentation... Critical Thinking is EASy
What does an EASy lesson look like... I used to teach ancient ancient history to 8th graders. Not an easy task, but it taught me to teach! Students used to do "live" news reports from ancient Rome, they created advertising campaigns for Mesopotamia, etc. etc. Websites aren't written like live news reports, students had to use the information in new ways to create their live reports (and I filmed them to make them even more authentic). No one is creating advertising for Mesopotamia or Babylonia, students had to use the information and make it into ads. These are just a few examples of EASy from my teaching days.
Students aren't "learning" to cheat because the Internet has information. We need to stop thinking this way and instead, do a better job of lesson planning and teaching.