WritingwithMachine in Spring 2019
curry mitchell

The contemplative, pedagogy-obsessed nerds of WritingwithMachines are excited to resume our conversation about teaching, writing, and technology in the 2019 spring semester. We will continue our exploration into equity-minded pedagogies and contemplative projects that facilitate more inclusive and meaningful learning experiences online. We will also dive into discussions of onsite practices, including the use of active learning stations and digital forums in the traditional and flipped classroom.

To this end, we will also host 4 FLEX eligible discussions on the 1st Friday of each month (plus one Tuesday in February) focused on pertinent topics:

  • Topic 1: Active Learning Stations: Reading and Writing with Tech in the Onsite Classroom
  • Topic 2: How to Know Your Online Students: Community, Equity, and Engagement
  • Topic 3: The First Annual Exhibition of Multi-modalities: with what tech do you teach comp?
  • Topic 4: Contemplative Projects in the Online Writing Class

(By the way, if you’re interested, you can check out the discussions WritingwithMachines hosted last semester, focused on designing Equity-minded Writing Assignments Online, Navigable yet Surprising Online Courses, and Early Semester Assignments for Online Comp Students.)

Finally, we will also welcome a cohort of new and returning faculty to the 1st half of our 10-week Certification Sequence, which begins February 4th. If you are interested in completing or beginning our Certification Sequence, please email curry at cmitchell@miracosta.edu.

Thank you for taking the time to consider participating in our community of practice. Have an excellent semester.

WritingwithMachines Discussion: Unpacking the Semester & Designing Week 1 Experiences
curry mitchell

Our final meeting of the fall semester was mellow. Nothing to read or prepare beforehand. We simply used the first half of the meeting to share the highs and the lows of our experiences teaching online this semester, and then we dedicated the second half to looking ahead at the next semester, specifically on how to design community-oriented and relational activities during early on.

We enjoyed a rich exchange of cool ways to facilitate first week experiences.

Watch an archive of the discussion:

Questions and topics we explore:

Which of your core pedagogical values are expressed in Week 1 activities?

How do your Week 1 activities reach out to and equip

  • new online students?
  • new college students?
  • students of color?
  • working students?
  • students who might feel intimidated by English coursework?

How do your Week 1 activities introduce students to experiences with skills, concepts, technologies, routines, etc. that are important to your course?

Can you draw a direct line from the experiences your Week 1 activities offer to the outcomes you hope to see performed in your mid- to end-semester assignments?

Review our notes from the meeting and more resources from our S2019 FLEX Week Workshop on Early Semester Assignments

WritingwithMachines Discussion: Design Engaging Experiences in the Online Writing Class
curry mitchell

In our October WritingwithMachines discussion on equity-minded teaching, Jade offered an analogy of a tree to illustrate her approach to “being intrusive, relevant, race-conscious, community-centric, and relational”: first, she designs activities around a solid and reliable trunk that then leads students out onto diverging, pliable branches.

In my attempt to design engaging online courses, I rely on a different but related analogy: first I build narrow corridors that then lead students into wide-open yet enclosed spaces. When I’ve talked with Chad about course design, he offers a balanced abstraction: it is essential to design defined space and it is essential to design space to be explored.

In our November discussion, Tony, Jason, Chad, Jim, Donna, and I explored further analogies, philosophies, and practical approaches that allow us to design interesting spaces where students find compelling reasons to engage–even play–with reading, writing, and thinking.

Watch the archive of the discussion:

Questions we explore:

How do we design our online courses so they are navigable yet surprising?

How do we encourage participation that is compelling and not compulsory?

Topics we discuss:

Defined navigation and instruction | Undefined navigation and instruction

Linear modules | Explorable spaces

Prescriptive assignments | Open assignments

Isolated spaces | Community-centric spaces

Required participation | Provoked participation

Podcasts we reference:

Nicholas A. Holt’s emphasis on play suggests we should increase the dialogic interactivity of our course design and bring students into greater degrees of contact with each other (maybe) and ourselves (definitely).

Laura Gibbs‘ digital storytelling course design sends students into individualized blog spaces initially and then equips them to share, exchange, and collaborate as a group later.

Listen to the audio of the meeting only:

Review our notes from the discussion and more resources from our S2019 FLEX Workshop on Course Design with Billy Gunn

 

WritingwithMachines Discussion: Equity-minded Teaching in the Online Comp Class
curry mitchell

Early in the 2018 fall semester, I invited my colleagues who teach online composition courses at MiraCosta College to collaborate with me in a series of 4 discussions focused on pedagogy and practice. Our first discussion (which sadly, I did not record) focused on the learning experiences we design specifically for the 4th week of the semester, a week when it is important to infuse a little disruptive enthusiasm to encourage and motivate students who are starting to fade a little in the discussions and activities.

During that discussion, my colleagues raised several perennial topics: how to increase retention and foster an inclusive online community, how to re-imagine course design and student experiences with navigation, and how to build more interactive presentations and lectures. While I felt each of these topics deserved their own space to unpack, I initially saw a clear and intriguing intersection with Dr. J. Luke Wood’s keynote address to the 2018 Online Teaching Conference.

So, for our second WritingwithMachines Discussion (archived below), we focused on equity-minded practices. The arc of our discussion followed Dr. Luke Wood’s description of 5 equity-minded practices for reaching, retaining, and supporting underserved students and specifically students of color. After a quick discussion of how “equity” is defined, we responded by sharing what we currently do, what we felt inspired to do differently, and what questions about online course design or assignments are raised by each practice.

Here’s how Jade, Shelli, Jim, and I related each equity-minded practices to our online course design, communication with students, and composition assignments:

Watch an archive of our discussion

Listen to the audio only

Review our notes from the discussion

Be present in first-week activities

Video Response!
Video Response! avatar

This was such a great discussion! I’m so sad I missed this but the topics were many that I myself had questions on for OW Courses. I think your attention to sound is so important. Giving students audio is an effective way to get their minds invested in a multitude of ways, music, instructor’s voice, video, and so forth. And pairing audio with color and backgrounds is a great to simply setting the tone of excitement for students!

 

I first want to address the non-linear forms of grading and deadlines, as I was sick last week and was working hard to play catch up this week that I fell behind on my own homework for this class. I was ‘that student’ gang. But knowing that curry and Jim were flexible with submitting my assignment was such a relief, which brings me back to recognizing the kinds of students the enroll into OW course will most likely be parents, those that work full time, and other students with hectic schedules. I think it’s important to make accommodation for ‘life happens’ situations.

 

Regarding Multiple and limited access points I love what was mentioned about recursive learning, keeping goals recursive: critical thinking, reading, and writing, but knowing that learning can be non-linear and linear are both possibilities. There also needs to be a balance that doesn’t overwhelm students and at the same time welcomes them to explore.

 

Finally, redundancy I have to say I appreciate the organization that Writing With Machines has established for this course. I like how this course unfolds itself by unit, but once you enter a unit there are links to click ‘if interested’ in exploring further to other resources. I really appreciate the balance for this model and see myself replicating a similar method for my OW courses!

 

 

The KonMari Method as a Guiding Metaphor for My Dream Online Writing Course
The KonMari Method as a Guiding Metaphor for My Dream Online Writing Course avatar

Dear colleagues,

I apologize for my late response. I’m frantically writing my dissertation right now because my 3-chapter deadline recently got pushed up! Thanks for reading. Your posts really inspired me to be creative this week in approaching the way I think about my dream online course. Thank you all for your inspiration!

I am responding to prompt 1: Based on your experience in this certificate sequence, what do you imagine your “dream” online composition course looking like? How would you structure it? What tools would you emphasize? How would you like students to experience learning in your online space?

The KonMari Method: Sparking Joy

The KonMari method is all about sparking joy. I want my online classroom first and foremost to be an enjoyable system to navigate and a place that students actually want to be. First and foremost, I want to greet them via a welcome video where I take the time to introduce my teaching philosophies, professional goals, and a little about my non-academic identity (just as I do in person). I want to gradually build trust with my students. By putting myself on the spot from the get-go, my hope is that they will also feel encouraged to open up in our online space. The second space that I would like them to be able to click on is an introductions post where they too leave a video/voice/or written introduction.

Furthermore, when students log into my online composition course, I want everything they click on to have a very specific purpose. Just like everything has a place that is easily identifiable in The KonMariMethod, I want my course to have as few clicks as possible. That means getting rid of extra file folders and extensions on Canvas that are stored in the navigation system of all stock courses. Like in the KonMariMethod, I don’t just want to tidy up my files; I want to also get rid of a clutter problem caused by too many files. In the past, creating one PDF with every reading and a table of contents has been helpful. I might even think about creating a course reader again for my English 100 course so that students can have something tangible that I created for them. That also means organizing my writing projects by pages and not modules. I envision having one page for every major course project and embedded within that page, a clear sequence of icons to click on for each week. I envision those icons being fun memes that also spark joy when students click on them as well.

The KonMari Method: Linearity

My schedule is crazy, and I empathize with my students who have crazy schedules. I crave a set plan with a to-do list that I cross out each day. I take great satisfaction in crossing things off my to-do list and seeing to-do list items checked off in other online systems that I have interacted with in the past. When I had some classes on the learning management D2L in the past, I got great satisfaction from seeing the check mark come up after I had downloaded a file and read it or submitted a task. I used that check-mark system religiously to keep up with my work. I want my students to have something similar.

I envision a weekly announcement for student’s that is not only color-coded but also has a digital checklist for students (that can also be printed out if they choose). The checklist will also have a section that outlines how much time they will need for a task and which days they may want to complete a particular task on in order to meet weekly deadlines in the class. I envision many weekly tasks being similar and due on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Sundays. Having a steady schedule of deadlines is important for not only my schedule but also for my students to have consistency.

The KonMari Method: Tools for Efficiency

In the KonMari Method, those decluttering their homes do so all in one big swoop rather than a little bit each day. I want my students to engage with a variety of different course tools. While I do not use them all at once, I typically like to introduce the tools that they will encounter in our course early on in the class so that they are familiar with the types of activities and work they will be engaging in throughout the class. Then when it comes time for students to use a new tool, such as Zoom for a peer review activity, they are not completely shocked.

I currently have a program manual and video tour for my online TESOL education courses that guide students throughout the course. For my OWC, I envision creating a similar program manual and accompanying video that preview different tools used in the course such as Zoom, Google Documents, DraftBack, Discussion Forum posts, uploading images in discussion forum posts in Canvas, Canvas peer review tools, and preferred mechanisms of communication with the teacher on Canvas (I can’t stand it when students send a random message in the message system within an assignment that they uploaded, and I never see it!). Do you have any suggestions for me about that?

The KonMariMethod: Mindset

In the KonMari method, the technique is supposed to foster not just a short-term change but a transformation. I want my class to engage students with developing a growth mindset and a college and literacy success plan that will inspire them to be a better version of their academic selves. In my current English 100 course, I integrate some materials from Carol Dweck’s growth mindset in my first unit. I also integrate some materials about a mindset that stresses critical thinking as well as rhetorical listening/reading strategies. Students do a genre twist project with a 3-page narrative that leads into a 3-page college and literacy success action plan letter to themselves. At the end of my online (and onsite course) students create an online portfolio on Weebly showcasing some of their best writing, their language self-study plan, as well as quotes from their narrative and college and literacy success plan that will continue to guide them through college. By publishing their work, they create a new academic identity that they can come back to in a virtual space. That virtual space is also a place that I hope they will continue to nurture as their professional endeavors takeoff! Keeping this unit in my online classroom is important to me, and I believe that I may even adapt it further in an online classroom where students use Weebly earlier on in the class.

A mindset of productivity is key in the OWC. I want to instill in my students that through the writing process they can truly feel more productive and satisfactory about their writing. I model for students my own professional writing techniques and share examples of revision plans that I create for feedback that I receive from journal reviewers and publishers. They then use that same model revision plan for each paper throughout the course. By keeping careful track of major and minor changes that they have made based upon their reviewers (classmates and myself) requests, they begin to see the power that they have in making productive changes to their writing. They also get less stressed about the revision process itself knowing that they have a clear plan to make productive changes that will lead to a better score. I will have OWC update their revision plans in their Google Documents. I will also keep track of how students are doing on their drafts in the online classroom by requesting that they write all of their papers in Google Docs. That way I can do daily monitoring of students that can lead to more interactions with students and solve issues earlier on before they arise. Whereas in the onsite classroom students often bring many short drafts like an introduction or body paragraphs for credit, I can monitor students’ assignment progress in an OWC directly via Google Docs. I had an instructor who interacted with me bi-weekly on my assignments and papers in the past via Google docs, and it was life changing!

My Past Posts:

Week 1: Tools, Tricks, and Transitions: Teaching Online Made Me a Better On-site Teacher!

Week 2: Fostering Communities of Inquiry 

Week 3: I Was Blindly Leading a Student who Is Visually Impaired 

Week 4: Transitioning to the Fully Online Classroom 

 

“A dream within a dream!”
“A dream within a dream!” avatar

As we reflect upon the course we’ve all embarked upon over the last two terms, we are now asked to describe what our “dream” online composition course might look like. With our current level of technology, I would certainly be using a CMS that allows me the ability to build user friendly interfaces and has the flexibility to integrate a variety of support tools such as Zoom, Google Apps, Adobe Apps, Dragon Naturally Speaking (DNS), and a few others that I’ve covered over the arc of the course.  The one area that I would focus on more, now that we’ve gone through the class, is how I connect and interact with my online students from start to finish. As mentioned last week, I very much like the idea of Gamification, in particular, giving multiple options to students for completing a particular task or assignment allowing them some control in terms of the deliverables they turn in.  One of the biggest challenges I had at the start of our program revolved around how to integrate the f2f experience into online teaching. Although I have not exactly solved that yet for myself, I do believe that your shared insights and our readings have provided me with tools that I think will go a long way in that direction. I’ve started to apply some of these into my hybrid class and am enjoying the results so far.

But, the prompt for this week asked us to describe our “dream” online class environment. So, let’s go there…

“You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.”
Christopher Nolan, Inception

The online Gamified class that I showcased last week is certainly interesting and I am looking forward to testing it next month. However, my dream online class is just on the event horizon. Virtual Reality has come a long way and has now moved into what is known as Augmented Reality. What’s next? Mixed-Reality technology! Soon, we will have the ability to have digital elements built into our actual environments. If this sounds a bit strange, I’ve added some links below that provide some insight into what this is and the potential it might have for education. So, my dream online composition class would be a mixed-reality classroom that students can access in their homes, or anywhere. Each week the lesson would appear on an old-fashioned writing table (and yes, with a weathered old brown leather satchel next to it)!  This week’s assignment might focus on Fitzgerald’s lyrical writing style in The Great Gatsby. Students are introduced to Nick who is sitting at the table, then opens the satchel and takes out some papers. He begins to read (as the rooms transforms into a circa 1920s environment filled with a slow jazzy background melody) the section of text that students are to analyze that week.  As the assignment/story unfolds, I would be able to scaffold all support materials I wish to share with the students into this environment allowing them to interact with it in real time.

Well, the prompt did ask us to discuss our “dream” class…so I am looking forward to trying this out as soon as it is available.  Anyhow, check out the links if you are interested in mixed-reality.

Augmented Reality VR Magic Leap Whale in Gym Elephant in Hands
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=its-Xy9P5z

CBS This Morning: Inside a company creating mixed-reality technology
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yumCpRXouFw

Magic Leap Whale: Example of mixed-reality
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyCoTzRzHxo

Examples of Magic Leap’s Mixed and Augmented reality.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1TtQ_Ul-14

My Posts: 

Back in the Game – CLASSCRAFT

Equity – taking into account prior probabilities.

hópverkefni

Back in the Day…

Grading, Access Points, and Redundancy
Grading, Access Points, and Redundancy avatar

This was such a great discussion! I’m so sad I missed this but the topics were many that I myself had questions on for OW Courses.

 I first want to address the non-linear forms of grading and deadlines, as I was sick last week and was working hard to play catch up this week that I fell behind on my own homework for this class. I was ‘that student’ gang. But knowing that curry and Jim were flexible with submitting my assignment was such a relief, which brings me back to recognizing the kinds of students the enroll into OW course will most likely be parents, those that work full time, and other students with hectic schedules. I think it’s important to make accommodation for ‘life happens’ situations.

 Regarding Multiple and limited access points I love what was mentioned about recursive learning, keeping goals recursive: critical thinking, reading, and writing, but knowing that learning can be non-linear and linear are both possibilities. There also needs to be a balance that doesn’t overwhelm students and at the same time welcomes them to explore.

 Finally, redundancy I have to say I appreciate the organization that Writing With Machines has established for this course. I like how this course unfolds itself by unit, but once you enter a unit there are links to click ‘if interested’ in exploring further to other resources. I really appreciate the balance for this model and see myself replicating a similar method for my OW courses!

DREAM OW CLASS! <3
DREAM OW CLASS!  <3 avatar

Oh my goodness, Writing With Machines has been an awesome journey. It’s definitely given me the confidence to actually visualize my ‘dream’ online composition course. I’ve gained so many tips and resources that I can use to personalize my online course and make it my own. The structure for my class would be one that is well-organized and inviting to students. This would be organized by the outline of the semester, reading assignments, and writing assignments. I also want to play the role of being visible with student writing and this semester there were a lot of great suggestions on how to do that without over exhorting myself. The tools I’ll take advantage of are the tools curry suggested for responding to student essay and lectures via video on Canvas. Being able to show students my personality and excitement for their development as writers is really important to me so knowing there are resources to show that to students is GREAT! I also imagine students experiencing learning through collaborative work using social media to interact with social justice based topics and presenting their findings to a larger community via internet. I’ll keep dreaming and keep coming up with ideas but I know being present, visible, and collaboratively interact with students are my main goals.

 

LINKS TO POSTS:

Week 1: The Snapshot Of Yourself

http://wordpress.miracosta.edu/writingwithmachines/2018/09/10/the-snapshot-of-yourself/

 

Week 2: Supportive Learning Teams VIA Technology

http://wordpress.miracosta.edu/writingwithmachines/2018/09/22/supportive-learn…s-via-technology/

 

Week 3: Thinking About Equity in the OW Courses

http://wordpress.miracosta.edu/writingwithmachines/2018/10/09/thinking-about-e…n-the-ow-courses/

 

Week 4: Video Response: (in response to classmate comments and discussion)

http://wordpress.miracosta.edu/writingwithmachines/2018/11/19/video-response/

 

My own 5-7 minute video Screen-Cast-O-Matic

https://screencast-o-matic.com/watch/cF6U0LYm2w

 

Cruising Utopia(n) Pedagogies
Cruising Utopia(n) Pedagogies avatar

I don’t know what it is, but this has been the most difficult of the prompts to conceptualize, partially, I suppose, because it’s so free-range but also because we are in the part of the semester when utopian thinking is made more difficult in the face of deadlines, due dates, tenure documents, and the ever-dimming light that is student burnout. I am always, though, thinking of that future course, as well, imagining “other ways of being in the world,” as Jose Munoz asks us to do in a text that is just as much about pedagogy as anything else (even if he doesn’t realize), Cruising Utopia: The Then and There of Queer Utopia:

“The here and now is a prison house. We must strive, in the face of the here and now’s totalising rendering of reality, to think and feel a then and there. Some will say that all we have are the pleasures of this moment, but we must never settle for that minimal transport; we must dream and enact new and better pleasures, other ways of being in the world, and ultimately new worlds.”

I think I reflect my deepest desire for my pedagogy, for any class (f2f or online), in my ENGL100 syllabus this semester, where, under “Course Theme,” I say “[t]he philosophy for this course will be that play opens us up to ‘alterity’: in other words, when we play, we don’t just entertain ourselves; we hope, desire, and think about different and better possibilities for our lives.” I try not to get bogged down in the logistics (when things are due; how they will be uploaded; how to name files), though those are important, and this semester of WritingWithMachines has shown me how delicate and intricate such considerations are within online classes, and I now have a lot of strategies to create an ideal class based on how to present information to students, how to curate points of access, how to be productively redundant, etc.

But, I suppose, my dream course would minimize those considerations and create exploration and collaboration for students through various venues, having a more “hangout” or “salon” type atmosphere where students can seek, digest, and debate the information they want. (One of my ideals, relating to this salon style, for f2f classes has been to replace the really obnoxious traditional student desk with couches and coffee tables.) I want a classroom full of play, and a form of play that challenges and reconstructs the classroom – not necessarily a gamified class (which I appreciate, but have always been slightly skeptical about). As my course philosophy quoted above states, I want a space where I am not just transmitting information to students, or even where they are finding information, but a space that facilitates the production of hopes, desires, and dreams in students: that gets them thinking utopian thoughts rather than, simply, thoughts about deadlines, due dates, and how to jump through hoops to get a degree.

As I already begin peeking at other posts on the blog, I also see some of my desires reflected: students co-creating courses (which I do in minimal forms now, but that I’d love to expand), increased student interaction and conversation (this is why I like group work so much, because then I can chat with students outside of the confines of the lecture-style system), and equity (where intersectionality is valued, and where students can begin to look beyond the desire to value themselves merely as economic objects–which is unfortunately what they have so much been asked to do). So, though I haven’t given many concretes here, I thank this process for allowing me to think utopian thoughts for a while and to imagine what a class, digital or physical, that is not so heavily beholden to the depressing minutiae that can sometimes drag done everyone, students and instructors alike.

And with that said…

American Horror Story Mic Drop GIF by AHS - Find & Share on GIPHY

(No, but seriously, thanks for the great conversations and ideas throughout this semester!)

 

Links to past posts:

Assessment in Advance: Fostering Anti-Authoritarian Feedback

To Collaborate, or not to Collaborate–What was the question?

“Flexible and Diverse Approaches”: The Contingent Nature of Equity-Mindedness

Organizing 101: You won’t believe how bad my files page looks! (clickbait?)