Final Reflection Post for ETAP 687

My final reflection post for ETAP 687. It has been a fun experience and I have enjoyed working with everyone. I can’t believe that this course is over. It seems like it was just yesterday that we were all just getting to know each other. Please view my video above for my final reflection post. (4)

Where Am I? Part 2

So, in less than one week the site admin area of Edublogs changed. It threw me for a loop, but I like the design a lot better. It is easier to navigate. Well, anyway onto my experiences over the last week. So here we go…

The past week has been a bit crazy, but it is slowly getting better. I am very pleased with my course and am very excited about it. I have shown a few people the layout and content of the course and they really liked it. They said it was simple, had a nice layout, and was not overwhelming. this was one of my goals, keeping it clean and to the point. I have been in some online classes where it is overwhelming and it tended to loose my interest. I brainstormed with a few people on some discussion question topics and they gave me some excellent ideas. It took awhile to come up with a few of the discussion questions, but after hours of brainstorming, they finally came to me. I came up with ideas earlier, but I wasn’t pleased with them. I just didn’t want to throw something up there for the sake of having a discussion question. I wanted to have meaning, be thought provoking, and really tie into the content. I am still stuck on the last discussion question though, Final Interview.   I want to use a case study, but I can’t find anything I really like. So, I am going to continue to to search for one or create a case study of my own. Just a few minutes ago Jess responded to my Part 1 of this blog, apparently she is going through the same thing with discussion questions. I am glad I am not going through this alone.

Creating the tutorials, the video Microsoft PowerPoint presentation, and Seesmic introduction was a bit challenging and a bit frustrating.  I have created a great number of tutorials and recordings, but for reason technology was not on my side.  Last Thursday, I decided to stay late after work and work on my recordings. It was quiet and I had the technology needed to create the tutorials and video. I created my PowerPoint presentation and tried to create record with Camtashia and it wouldn’t allow me to. A few weeks back, we got hit with a virus and it seemed to wipe away my Camtashia add-ins. The other problem was that I couldn’t get Camtashia to work properly. I haven’t used the program in a couple weeks so I didn’t realize that the bug plagued Camtashia. I then tried to use another program Adobe Captivate but was unsuccessful with that. I went through recorded my whole presentation to only find out that it didn’t record my voice. So by this point, I decided OK it is time to leave. I then went home and tried to record my Seesmic presentation which only led me to another roadblock. Everything seem to record fine, but when I went to play it back I could only hear audio but could not see myself. So I decided to give up on technology for the night. Luckily, I went back in on Sunday and my Seesmic video (both voice and video) were there. What a relief!

Besides the discussion, I have to update my checklist and my grading rubrics. But other than that, I am all set. Yeah!!! I can’t believe this course is almost over. Where did the time go? I have enjoyed this course and I can’t wait to get every one’s feedback.

Garrison’s article was very interesting and as I was going through the article I was thinking about my course. I particularly enjoyed reading about Social Presence. In an online course, an instructors presence is extremely important. In my course, I tried to create a welcoming and encouraging community. I am using instant messenger, the bulletin board, and a video and written introduction message to get through to my students. In their first discussion question, I allowed them to Google me (you will have to visit my course to see the activity). I tried to stress throughout the different modules that we are all working together and that we will get through it. I really like how Alex has created a welcoming environment in our course and I hope I have done the same in mind. I feel very comfortable in our classroom and am not afraid to ask a question. Classroom community is very, very important in an online course as all of the interaction takes place behind a computer screen unlike a traditional classroom where it takes place in a face to face setting.

Garrison also discusses social presence and learning activities (Garrison, 2007). In all of the modules I try to have them interact with each other where it be through a discussion question or assignment activity like Seesmic. In Module 8, I am having them create a video and interact with a classmate. They will be asking each other interview questions and then responding back to them. After they complete the question and response video, they will need to critique their partners responses. I am looking forward to viewing their videos.

Talk to you soon!

Jen (3)

Where Am I? Part 1



Well, I have to say to honestly answer this question; I am a bit overwhelmed and off (keep reading to find out what I mean) this week. I completely overlooked the course checklist assignment that was due yesterday. I read everything in the module, but for some reason I missed the July 27th due date (which is on everything!) and blocked it out of my mind. I was so focused on developing my own course and I associated the checklist with being completely done with the course, that I didn’t submit it. I thought it was due August 3rd. I should have known yesterday when I woke up with an “off” feeling that the whole day was going to be a bear. If I only could have started the day over again, I would have. I totally blocked out a presentation that I had to give (Showed up to work dressed down when I should have been dressed up. We have dress down during the summer.) at work.

After reviewing the course checklist, I realized that I still have a good amount of work to complete.

I have been working every day on my course and some days I feel like I am making more progress than others. Sometimes I get hung up on something and instead of just letting it go or going back to it later, I ponder on it. I don’t like to leave things unfinished, so I try to stick with it until I figure it out or complete it. I have learned that sometimes it is appropriate to move on and go back and visit it later. One particular area that I got hung up on was the discussion questions. I still have not figured out two, but I have decided to re-visit them later on.

The checklist is quite helpful as it really points out things that I may have missed. I plan on using this checklist for my job as it will help me out. I am in the process of developing a course for work and this checklist will help keep me on task.

The next couple of days will be a bit stressful, but I know I can get through them. I just need to keep staying focused and take one thing at a time. (3)

Who Am I?

Very interesting question. I have been pondering on this question and here is what I came up with….I guess I am many things in relation to others, I am a student, employee, learner (as my dad calls me a perpetual student), sister, daughter, niece, cousin, and sister-in-law. I am a type of person who loves challenges, very detailed, doesn’t like to give up, always tries my hardest to succeed, dedicated, can be a perfectionist at times (OK, maybe a good amount of time), and loves to learn. I love deep conversations with friends and colleagues about education. I love to be surrounded by friends and family. I like to travel and explore other countries (going away next month, woohoo!!). I also like to stay on-top of technology. I am also the type of person who always thinks from the student perspective, which leads me into this course/my course.

While taking this course and designing my own course, I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned that it is challenging to be an instructor and that developing content from scratch is a bit tough. I am going on my learned knowledge from my courses and my experiences. I am constantly brainstorming and asking myself questions (from student perspective) like “Would I want to learn this? What am I going to get out of this course? Would I be able to complete the allotted work during the time frames I have provided?” I am constantly reflecting on my experiences as a student and the things that I liked and disliked in my courses. I always try and think from a student point of view, as they are the ones who are going to be enrolling in my course. I also have been in their shoes, so I know what it is like to be a student. This is a first for me as I have never designed a course before or taught. Seeing that I have no teaching experience, it has been a struggle to come up with everything from scratch. But, I am enjoying it and it is a wonderful learning experience.

I have two challenges so far in designing my course, one being still trying to come up with discussion questions that are engaging, interesting, and that really tie in the content and the other dealing with the slowness of Moodle (I try to be patient, but sometimes it just drives me crazy). But, I know I am not in this alone. These two challenges are a part of the process.

I have enjoyed communicating with Alex on Seesmic. It has been fun and Alex has been really helpful in brainstorming and conducting research on how I can incorporate this software into my course. After chatting with her a few times, I have decided to add Seesmic to my course as one of my learning activities. I am going to add this into the module on Preparing for the Interview. I am going to have students generate questions and practice role playing with each other. It will allow students to be able to respond at their (but keeping it within the timeframe), communicate with students in another form of communication, and allow them to gain experience as being an interviewer/interviewee.

It has been an interesting past two weeks and I look forward to the upcoming weeks in designing the rest of my course. Good night!


A Challenging Task, Discussions

So far, what has challenged me the most in this course is designing the learning activities for my course, Interviewing. Seeing that I have not taught previously (traditional or non-traditional) and only have experience as being a student, I have been having some trouble developing the learning activities. Designing the discussion topics has been the biggest struggle. From a student perspective, I have learned from my own experiences what I like best and least about discussion posts. Depending on the course and the topics presented to us, sometimes I learn a lot from them, while other times I don’t learn from them. I am visual and hands on learner. I get more out of applying information (well actually performing a task) than I do just reading. My mind tends to wonder. Keeping this in the back of my mind, I need to connect to all different types of learners as an instructor. I want to make my discussion posts meaningful and related to the content, but yet fun to learn.

One of Alex’s comments on my course design is to make sure that my discussion questions relate to the articles/textbook information. I have a few of my discussion posts done, but I am still have a few that I am having some trouble coming up with such as resumes and cover and thank you letters.

I am in the process of designing my rubric. I have created a few rubrics in the past for past courses so I am hoping to take some off the information off of them as well as come up with some new information. Creating a rubric will be extremely helpful when it comes to grading my students work. Having them done ahead of time will prevent a headache in the future. It will also allow my students to see what I will be looking for in a post or learning activity. I personally love when my instructors provide me with a rubric. Before I create the learning activity/assignment, I glance at the rubric to see what they are looking for. Once I complete the learning activity/assignment, I revert back to the rubric and make sure that my work falls under each category. From here, I at least have a sense of where I can expect my grade to be.

I am having fun designing my own course, but it is definitely a lot of work. Trying to design my course as well as complete the coursework is a bit challenging. I give developers and instructors a lot of credit. I didn’t realize how much work goes into designing a course from scratch. As this being the first course I have ever developed, I am learning and developing at the same time. Developing other courses will be easier as I will have had experience from this course.


Technology, My Passion, My Course

After completing the learning activities for this module’s assignments, I really appreciated all of the work that goes into designing a course from scratch. I only had 9 modules, but it seemed like a lot more than that. Trying to get everything to tie into together was a bit of a struggle, but after awhile I got the hang of it. I still have some work to do with creating the discussion questions and learning activities. I have been thinking about them but can’t come up with a couple of them. I didn’t just want to throw anything down on paper, so I decided that I will brainstorm some more and come back to them. Once I start developing my modules in more detail, it will be easier to develop the discussion questions. I have an idea of what I want to do for the learning activities, but I want to consult with some friends and colleagues. Like any other instructor or course designer, I want to make sure that my activities and discussion questions allow for critical thinking, tie in the content, and engage the student.

A difficult challenge for me this module was creating the learning activity and participating in the discussion question. At first, I did understand either and finally a light went off. Viewing Alex’s examples were extremely helpful. But, participating in the discussion questions, developing my course, and viewing the content really gets me excited about becoming an educator. The more involved I get and the more I read about education, the more I am learning about myself and that education is my niche. I can remember a few years back not knowing what I wanted to do with my life. I was so nervous and stressed about not having a passion. Now that I found my passion, it is like an addiction. I love talking to colleagues who share the same interests as we connect on many levels. This course not only is challenging me, but it is allowing me to connect to past experiences as well as new experiences. I am able to connect an area of interest with my passion, working in higher education, being a course designer, and paving my way to becoming an instructor. Lately, I have been finding myself reading articles located on The Chronicle of Higher Education and E-Campus News. If you like higher education, these two resources are fantastic and they have a daily e-mail service that you can sign up for.

When viewing the Breeze Presentation on Keys to Success, I could really identify with the content that Alex provided. I found myself really pondering on some of the Lessons Learned. One in particular was number 5, about adding too much technology can take away from the course content. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves are we trying to show off and teach technology or are we teaching the student about content. At work while developing a simulation, this question constantly is being asked and thought of. Sometimes technology with all of the bells and whistles is not appropriate and it can cause students to drift away from what we really want them to obtain. We have to keep in mind when adding technology that not everyone is tech savy and that putting content in an application such as PowerPoint, movie file, or other forms can be overwhelming. Keeping it simple sometimes is the best solution. Depending on the content of the course and level of learner can depend on the technology that is incorporated into the course.


Discussions and the Instructor

The Three Principles of Effective Online Pedagogy was a great eye-opener for me. Not having a teaching background, it helped steer me in a direction. This is the first course that I have taken, that we have had to change the subject of the discussion posts. I think this is an excellent idea. It makes a student think and it is a lot easier to find a post. Reading through 20 or so posts a week can get confusing and at times overwhelming. I can’t tell you how many times in my other classes that I have started to read something and had to stop in my tracks. Trying to go back and find the post was a nightmare. Now, I can easily recall a previous discussion message. It is much easier to look at the title of something rather than click inside each discussion thread/post to find what you were looking for or to pick up where you left off. I love the idea that Pelz shares with instructors about spending 30-45 minutes a day reading their students discussion posts (Pelz, 2004). By doing this on a daily basis, it makes reading discussion posts manageable.

One area I am not too sure of is having students grade their own work or others. I am not sure how effective this is. I tend to be hard on myself, plus I don’t want my classmates/instructor to think that I am always giving myself high grades, so I tend to grade lower. I also have a hard time grading others as I always feel bad. Unfortunately, I always feel bad in a situation where I have to rate/critique others. Don’t get me wrong, I am not afraid to speak my mind sometimes. When I am anonymous, I tend to maybe critique a little more, but I still have that guilt feeling. I guess it is just my personality.

The other day I decided to “Google” Managing Discussion Posts for Instructors and I found a great article. The article is called Generating and Facilitating Engaging and Effective Online Discussions. I found the tips to be quite helpful. Some of the tips are the same that we read in different articles, but there were a few new things. I think I may include the questions that are under Words of Wisdom.


A recap of the past 2 weeks in Module 2

The article “Do Online Students Dream of Electric Teachers” by Jason Scorza, made me think about the participating in the discussion board as a student and as an instructor. An online classroom environment doesn’t allow you to see an instructor or classmate’s non-verbal cues (Scorza, 2005). I have always wondered what their initial response (see their facial expressions) is when someone reads one of my post(s). In one of the discussion posts within this module, one of my classmates asks this same question. How can I tell if students are grasping this information or what their initial reaction to an assignment is? I have asked myself this question many times. Can I determine if they understand or are struggling with an assignment by the tone of their submission? Or, by how much time they are spending in the course? Would adding emotions to a post be helpful (like you can in Facebook or Instant Messenger) or conducting a survey (1-2 questions) at the end of each module be effective? All of these may send a signal, but how can I really determine if a student is connecting to the information?

The article by Alex, “A Series of Unfortunate Events and How to Avoid Them,” really put course design into perspective for me. There are a ton of factors that you need to keep in mind when designing a course. This holds true for traditional and non-traditional courses. You really have to “Assume Nothing” when you design a course (Pickett, 2008). Two areas that I want to focus on in great detail is making sure that the discussion questions are meaningful and creating a warm classroom environment. I have been in online classrooms where I felt like the only reason why we are participating in the discussion boards is to get a grade. The discussion questions did not allow for critical thinking and they didn’t have much to do with what we were learning. I barely took anything away from them and I think my classmates didn’t take anything away from them as well. When I design my discussion questions, my focus is to make students want to participate. Instead of just posting a question and having students respond, I am going to incorporate different activities such as case studies and having them look things up. The more a student can become engaged, the more they will participate in the discussion board. Lastly, I hope to create a learning environment that is warm and inviting. Once again, I have been in a classroom setting where I felt like I was out there all by myself. I did not like the way this felt and I don’t want my students to feel this way either. Seeing that I have been in their shoes, I know what they are going through. A positive, caring personality sets the tone for the course (I have to say Alex has done this in this course). I want my students to know that I am there. At work and in the classroom, I always try to think from a student perspective.

I have to say, I love the discussion questions that Alex came up with for this Module. The questions on the discussion board are questions that I have always thought about but never knew who to ask or how to go about getting an answer for them. Teaching doesn’t come with a manual or an answer key. I brainstorm a lot with my colleagues, but sometimes we have the same questions and no one to turn to for answers. In all of the graduate courses that I have taken, this is the first course that has actually allowed me to address some of the questions. In addition, these are questions that are practical and that I am faced with on a daily basis. It is nice to see that my classmates have some of the same questions that I have had. It is nice to be able to work with each other and explore different options.

Last week I ordered the textbook that I want to use in my course, “Interviewing: Principles and Practice” by Charles Stewart and William Cash. I decided to use an older edition as it would be cheaper for students. Textbooks can be expensive. I used this textbook, well an older edition, when I took a traditional class similar to what I want to design. This textbook has come in handy several times when I was going through the interviewing process.

So far in my course, I have created links to my Course Information. I decided to put it in Module 1 so students can easily find it. There are only a few links that I am still working on finishing up such as policies, syllabi, and the rubric under grading. As time progresses and I begin to develop my course more, I can then complete these documents.

I look forward to the next module and working on developing my course in more detail.

Pickett, A. (2006). A series of unfortunate online events and how to avoid them. Suny Learning Network. p. 1-12.

Scorza, J.A. (2005). Do online students dream of electric teachers? JALN. 9(2). p. 45-52.