Adventures of a Technology Challenged Online Instructor

Week 24: A Reflection
Week 24:  A Reflection avatar

Wow!  I made it – even if it took a couple of months longer than I had planned!  I can honestly say that I learned a lot from this course, a lot more than I thought I would.  I came into the POT Cert class looking for new tools to use and update my rather boring online class; but I leave after these 24 weeks with knowledge on online pedagogy, personal learning networks, course design, and so much more!  Sometimes I feel like I’m left even even more questions than when I started, but I know I have a good framework to build my online course!

Here is a recap of the 24 Weeks:

 

Week 1:  Welcome to the World of Blogging was my very first attempt at creating a blog.  I explained how I feel “technologically challenged” even though I teach courses online.

Week 2:  Have You Ever Really Stopped to Think About Pedagogy got me to evaluate my teaching style.  Having not been trained as an educator, I think most of my teaching is modeled after what I experienced as a student.  This post really made me think about what it is I do in the classroom and why.  I still want to transition my teaching style to one that relies less on presentation and more on student collaboration; but for me, this is going to be a difficult process to give up “control” of the class.  I’m working on it, though!

Week 3:  A Wake Up Call on Course Design really was just that for me.  Although I like the basic structure of my online class, it is still just that – basic.  I’m slowly integrating more technology into my online course, but I want to make sure that everything I do use has purpose and meaning for my students.  Over the winter break, I am going to rework parts of my online course to allow for more student interaction and collaboration.

Week 4:  More Thoughts on Course Design helped me narrow my focus on what it is I want to change about my online course.  There are two key aspects I am going to focus on first in my redesign:  Group Oriented Work and Intructor Generated Content.  I don’t think I need to narrate 100% of my Powerpoint Slides, but I think creating audiovisual presentations for key topics each week would be a great start.

Week 5:  My (somewhat) Interactive Syllabus got me thinking about the beginning of the semester and how to hold students accountable for knowing the information in the syllabus.  I think my course design is good, in the sense that the course is easy to navigate; but I could definitely re-work the syllabus posted within the course.  I ended up adding a syllabus quiz to my course and it has worked out very well!

Week 6:  It’s a Foreign Language to Me is when I started to step outside of my comfort level and try the RSS feed and embedding videos.  I am adding videos to my Blackboard course so each week has a short clip on something we’re learning about that week.  I really still haven’t used the RSS feed much.  I’m not sure why I’m not doing so – I think maybe because it feels like more “work,” even though I know that using an RSS feed should be less work for me in the long run.

Week 7:  Creating Community in My Online Course made me think about the lack of community I have created for my online students.  I’m pondering ways to work on this and I think adding a group component definitely will help.  In this post I questioned the use of Facebook or Twitter in a class setting, and I’m still questioning it.  I think I would like to try it, but I may survey my students first.  I’d hate to put a lot of work into creating a class Facebook page, only two have a few students find it helpful.

Week 8:  Turning Ideas into Action is where I think I became completely overwhelmed with the technology and options out there!  I’m still trying to figure out how and where I would use Collaborate and VoiceThread in my classes!  A fellow classmate commented on being able to embed VoiceThread into Blackboard – so I’m going to experiment with this as well!

Week 9:  Creating Meaningful Online Student Activities is when I was introduced to MERLOT!  Can I please just have endless hours to browse all of the material on this site?  I will definitely be including material from MERLOT in both my online and face-to-face classes!  I also gained a little more clarity on how I think I’m going to set up groups in my online courses.  Now to experiment over the break with how best to implement this!

Week 10:  Blogging About Student Blogging introduced me to the idea of having students blog as part of the online experience.  I really enjoyed the presentations provided this week and am interested in trying to set up student blogs for a project in my course.

Week 11:  The Legalities of Online Teaching got me completely freaked out and made me re-examine the material I use in my courses.  Instructors could really use a refresher on what is and isn’t legal to use in their classroom (hint, hint, someone please do a FLEX class on this!).  This week was also a good reminder to make sure that course material is accessible to all students – something I definitely needed reminding of.

Week 12:  Looking Back was a review of the first semester.  I realized I was getting the basics done, but not diving more deeply into the material – something I think many of our students are guily of as well.

Week 13:  Taking a Screenshot was much more difficult than I had anticipated and caused me to fall behind (and never catch up) during the seconf half.  With some assisatance from my husband, I was able to get the Snipping Tool installed on my computer, and I’m happy to say that I’m still utlizing this program!

Week 14:  My first attempt at Slidecasting was almost my last!  This week was just frustration after frustration trying to learn Slideshare and Audacity.  But, in the end I got it to work, and I can say that I’m definitely going to be using this again.  But I really liked Eyejot and have used this a lot!

Week 15:  Screencast-O-Matic was much easier then Slideshare, in my opinion.  I really enjoyed using Screencast-o-Matic a have made a few of these screencasts for my online class now.  Definitely something I will continue to use.  I think we get so caught up in the “technology” that sometime we forget what we’re actually using the technology for.  But the tools this week were definitely something that will enhance both my online and face-to-face classes.

Week 16:  Creating FAQ’s for students seems like a no-brainer, but it actually wasn’t something I had done before.  Since I’ve done this and added to my online course, I have fewer emails with questions on logistics, thereby saving me time and energy!  I’m going to expand on these FAQ’s for my class in the Fall.  Sometimes we tend to forget that our students aren’t as tech savvy as we think og them to be and providing them with a simple FAQ sheet or instructions on where things are located within the class can be extremely helpful.

Week 17:  This is where I really started to fall behind.  Selling a house, buying a house, packing, and moving just took up so much time and energy.  But, I was happy to get back at the coursework.  Classroom Management is key with online courses.  My sections are typically about 50 students each, and without classroom management, I would be online 24 hours a day.  Something I learned through trial and error was to make sure that you set an expectation of communication with students.  They want answers right away, and you need to manage their expectation of how quickly you will respond.

Week 18:  I’m a huge fan of the LMS and I explained why in this Eyejot message.  I know I’m probably in the minorty here, but I don’t find the structure of an LMS limiting.  (But again, I am a very structured type person – which is why Blackboard works well for me.)

Week 19:  I think I had a lot of questions this week on MOOCs and Online Learning.  I had to do some self reflection about my face to face class and if I should “require” an online component.  As Ko & Rosen said, “Making the use of the internet optional rather than incorporating it into the curriculum dooms it to failure.”  I am exploring using Facebook in my classes but still not entirely sure how I could make its use mandatory.  MOOCs are another beast that I’m not sure about.  I get them for personal interest, but I’m at a loss on how they work in an actual “for credit” university course.

Week 20:  Again, I had to put a lot of thought into this week about Instructional Design and I’m not sure that I grasped the entire concept.  I really enjoyed Lanier’s article this week, but it led me back to a lot of reflection on my own teaching, assignments, and coursework.

Week 21:  I really enjoyed this week on Education Theory.  I came to the conclusion that I am an instructivist and that isn’t anything to be ashamed of!  However, I am definitely working on including more constructivist-type activities in my classes.  I enjoyed using Screencast-O-Matic again and am really beginning to like that program!

Week 22:  This week brought us to Teaching and Sharing.  I agree teachers, should share resources whenever possible, but I did question if this willinging to share is different between non-tenured teachers or those receiving merit-based raises.  Are we in jeopardy of losing out on sharing with each other if we feel like we are competing with our peers?

Week 23:  Finally!  I made it to Presentation Week!  I decided to give Slideshare another shot because I was so frustrated with it last time.  I think my frustration actually is with Audacity, and not Slideshare.  But I can say that this time went much better than my last attempt.  I decided to cover Week 2:  Online Teaching and Learning, and just provide a few slides about common online teaching myths, questions to ask yourself before you get started teaching online, and some benefits to online teaching as well.  I hope I was on the right track here!

And now, Week 24.  It took me awhile to get here, but I did finally get here!  It was definitely a long journey, but one full of reflection and self-discovery.  I got much more out of this class than I had anticipated at the start and I am so happy that I continued on!

Thanks for the great class, everyone!

Melissa

 

 

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