Warnock Chapters 4 & 5
Warnock Chapters 4 & 5 avatar

Hi All,

Well, I was rushing to get this done and realized that we have until March 26th. But I have the readings fresh in my head, and even made a video showing how I use discussion board as well as, how, with the help of Katie Hughes (SDSU) and Marla Williams (SDSU & MiraCosta), I have revised my syllabus and calendar for my online classes.

Here’s the Link

Best, Cara Owens


My Teaching/ Facilitation Framework
My Teaching/ Facilitation Framework avatar

Hi Everyone,

I am joining a bit late. But I want to thank Curry for encouraging me to join in on this fantastic journey with you all.

About me: I work as a full time writing coach in the Writing Center. This semester I am on all 3 campuses: CLC, San Elijo, and Oceanside. I am a happy and incredibly grateful graduate of the CSU system where I did my B.A. at CSU Fullerton and my M.A. at Sacramento State. I have additional teaching certificates in Teaching Composition and in Teaching Reading to Adults. I am passionate about literacy and developing better reading/ metacognitive skills with students. I taught English 100, Basic Writing (when it was called that at Sac State), and a hybrid online model of English 100. I taught reading classes at Sacramento City College, and I spent a year at Montana State University teaching American Literature, FYC, and an advanced composition course.   Then I had my twins and put work on the back burner for the wonderful and crazed work of raising my twin girls. While I did not anticipate doing writing center work, I started working in the Writing Center here at MCC in 2014, and I feel like I am following my bliss every day I come to campus. Right now I am right in the middle of my Orton-Gillingham certification training classes. I hope to be able to better serve our students with dyslexia after I complete my OG training.

My Framework for working with students online:

So I am hesitant to use the word “teaching” here, since I am coming from the perspective of writing center work—we facilitate- right?! But when I work with students online in a feedback session, I feel like we have to be more directive because we use a non-synchronous platform for our feedback. At times that lends itself to conversations and interactions that push that facilitator line to more directive type teaching. Because I have online connections with students in much shorter bursts than a 15 week class (I create a 5-8 minute personalized video with feedback), I have had to adapt my in class teaching pedagogy a bit for writing center work. Here is what I value in teaching:

I want to have deep connections with my students: I want them to know I value them, their unique experiences, their life and academic contexts and histories, and I want them to know that I am here for them as both writers and as people living in the world. To do this, I believe in a “call you in” type relationship where I invite them in and hope they will invite me in too. This means I create as safe a space as possible for them to express their ideas. I see students as my teachers in many ways. I learn something new from the students I work with every day.

“Because the students don’t actually see me, I try to create links between us, not just to develop a sense of camaraderie, but to create an audience for them” (8).

I want to push past this limitation of seeing or not seeing by using technology like screencast to record my face and voice in a webcam introduction to their feedback video. But I also try to create more personal links when their paper is on the screen, and I talk through a revision idea. I try to do this with specific compliments on what they have done well or a brief mention of my own writing experiences, if my experiences relate to what the student is doing in their writing. I do try to record a brief intro to my video using the webcam, so students can place a face with my name and voice. I hope this makes them feel more connected to me- the person giving them feedback. I almost always thank them for using our services and compliment something concrete they did in their writing.


Writing is a Process: I want them to learn something epic and life altering-ly big or to them seemingly small (I don’t ever think these realizations are small at all) about their process in each interaction I have with them both in person or online. In feedback, I use lots of open ended questions. I ask them to experiment with moving ideas around on the page. But I also want students to be metacognitive about their process. How did mind-mapping the reading help you? Why did mind-mapping work better for you than traditional note-taking? OR Why did moving that mention of the author’s credibility work better as the second sentence in your intro over where it was before? How/ why did you decide to move it there? If they walk away knowing they have a process and could draw me a map/ picture or narrate their writing process and why it works for them- I have succeeded in some way!

“The continuous writing environment makes it ever possible for students to learn through their own work in a studio-like environment (Grego and Thompson 8)” (xii)

This resonates with me because we use studio style at San Elijo. In fact the Greco and Thompson article was our jumping off point to shift to studio in the center. Students don’t need an appointment; they drop in. The time with students then becomes less about the product and more about their process and identity as a writer. With studio, I facilitate more active learning because we can talk out what they want to do in our time together and then after we have discussed an idea or concept have them practice and apply a concept while I either physically pull back to give them space to apply what they learned. But I get to check in on them again and read again what they just practiced on their own and validate it or get all meta with them on how it worked for them. I would love to find ways to do this online using our a-synchronous model, but obviously there are challenges there.

De-mystify Reading and Writing in a Safe Space: I try to be as explicit as possible about academic writing. I believe in models. I believe in explicit instruction. I want to break myths (elementary to high school) they have been told about writing or what makes a good writer. I think students want to be able to practice their skills in a safe space and have us there as that back up support to talk out what they just tried or experimented with in their writing.

Finally, one goal I have is to extend how we work with students online beyond the online writing feedback videos we create.  This may mean online workshops, discussions, content pages, online videos on how to critically read for various disciplines… I am not sure yet what, but I hope to learn how to do that with the most sound online pedagogy.

Here is my video:


Mobilis in Mobile
Mobilis in Mobile avatar

Hello Fellow Colleagues,

As all of you have also experienced, I’ve had my share of adventures through the labyrinths of educational technologies, all promising new bells and whistles to serve our learners and us better. Initially, to help me provide digital content to my learners, I created my own websites, eventually moving over to institutionally supported CMS systems. Here I’ve dabbled with Blackboard, Moodle, Edmodo, Google Classroom and now have set a new course for adventures in Canvas. Collectively, they remind me of the motto on the Nautilus, Mobilis in Mobile, technology moving amidst constant change. Just when you think you might have learned the ins and outs of a system, a better one arrives. I like technology so I’m always exploring new tools, but it does get a bit overwhelming at times to determine what will actually work and what just looks interesting but will be too difficult to evaluate the educational impact. So I’ve come to embrace the “less is more” notion expressed in Warlocks’s ninth guideline to “keep it simple and effective.”

I wish to share with you some of my experiences as they pertain to how I approach building my online-hybrid classrooms. I usually try to evaluate them by looking at design tools, content creation tools, and content management systems (CMS) available to me.

  1. Design tools:
    These include tools that allow you to create your own interface either through direct HTML5 coding, or through the use of digital composers, i.e., website builders (WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Squarespace) that offer users a variety of templates and a friendly interface with easy drag and drop features. These allow you to effortlessly link/post content to a variety of sources including social media applications. I’ve enjoyed using these design tools for hybrid classes as I feel they allow me the greatest amount of creative control; however, there are limitations with content privacy.
  2. Content creation tools:
    Whether using web builders or an existing CMS infrastructure, I use lots of different tools to help build and design my content for classes. Since many of you use these I won’t go into much detail on them other than to list them. I use Keynote, PowerPoint and Prezi for in-class content presentation. I usually use the first two and then convert them to PDF and upload/link to the virtual classroom, blog or CMS. I try to have students also use these tools for their presentations, or choose a number of other programs that are better suited for social media integration.

    1. Smore and Pinterest: Great for brainstorming ideas and creating digital flyers/posters and/or image archives. Smore allows you or students to create great flyers without requiring much in the way of design skills.
    2. YouTube: I create class channels in which I can link content into my HTML/CMS sites or have students upload video projects to the account.
    3. Storybird: As an ESL educator, I’ve enjoyed using this tool that allows students to create their own digital picture books. I usually have two members in each team, as they search through the extensive art archive to find images that work for their creative story development. Stories can be long or short based on story design and then they can easily be converted to an eBook format for presentations. Additionally, they provide a classroom interface allowing you to easily review projects, set assignments, have students respond to stories via blog, and story publishing tools. I’ve used it for teaching intermediate ESL writing classes as well as intermediate German.
    4. Easelly: This application is ideally suited for creating infographics that I’ve used for students to graphically represent their essays. They visually demonstrate the flow of ideas and overall structural cohesion of the writing.
  3. Content management systems CMS): As mentioned earlier, I am relatively new to CANVAS. What I’ve seen so far I’ve liked and find that the benefits outweigh the weaknesses. Most of my experience has been with other CMSs. One of the schools I teach at uses Google Classroom exclusively (for hybrid classes):

    Google Classroom: The interface is straight forward and simple to use. The teacher interface allows you an overview of all of your online classes. Each class consists of three essential pages:

  1. Stream page: used for all communication of assignments, questions, or announcements (not email).
  2. Student page: Allows for teacher/ student interaction and discussion.
  3. Class resource page: Presentations and additional information can be posted for students to access.
  4. Additionally, there are email and calendar features integrated into the site.

The true benefit of using Google Classroom has been the ease of use of all the Google Suite applications because they integrate seamlessly into the site. I’ve listed the ones that I use regularly:

  1. Google Docs: Great for individual or collaborative writing assignments. Allows synchronous user editing.
  2. Google Forms: Create multiple choice or limited response questions that are helpful as a digital study guide. Students get instant feedback and can access forms on any platform.
  3. Google Drive: Google’s version of Dropbox. A place that holds all Google-created documents and allows you to share those documents by placing them into student folders.
  4. Google Slides: Another alternative to PowerPoint and Prezi, seamlessly integrated into the Google platform. Students can easily create and share their presentations. They can play on any device at any time (given a good WIFI connection).
  5. Google Hangouts: Platform for creating video or text discussion groups linked to the Google Classroom site.

I have enjoyed using the system because it is quite flexible and adaptive. The price for accessing all of these systems is setting up a Google email account. As most students already have such an account, they can access all of these applications at no cost. There are video and photo applications and many more that can be integrated to expand on lesson content creation. Above all, unlike other CMS systems, I’ve been able to use this with students from around the world as it requires only an internet connection and a PC.

See you next week!
Bentley  🙂

Unit 1: Framework for Teaching On-Line
Unit 1: Framework for Teaching On-Line avatar

(I’m reposting the first week into the blog (rather than the feed) as I was not able to access the blog until today!) 

Unit 1: Framework for Teaching On-Line

Hello Everyone,

Sorry for late post…

About Me: I am delighted to be part of the Writing with Machines group and look forward to our exploration of effective on-line teaching tools and strategies. So, who am I? Well, I was born in Switzerland, moved to California when I was ten, graduated from USCS (go banana slugs!) with a degree in political science and moved back to Europe to work for a multinational electronics corporation. After five years, I moved back to the US and worked as a VP for a non-profit educational science center for many years. I then decided to change things up a bit and got my M.S. in TESOL from CSUF. For the last few years I’ve been teaching credit and non-credit ESL instructor at the community college level, at Intensive English Programs, Business English workshops, and as a world language educator, at the middle school level, for beginning and intermediate German.

As of yet I have not taught an exclusively on-line class, but rather a hybrid model. I just recently migrated to using Canvas, but have used other platforms including Google Classroom.

Technology and me: For the most part, I love technology however; as I was born prior birth of the World Wide Web I would be defined as a ‘digital immigrant’ as compared to what Prensky (2001) refers to as digital natives (those who have not known a time without the internet). Yes, as a child I still went outside to play in the sun!

In particular, I truly enjoy the creative and artistic aspects of technology; I’ve worked as a graphic designer and am very familiar with all of the Adobe Creative Suite products. I enjoy building web sites, editing film and video/sound projects and digital photography. I’ve even taught classes in Photoshop, Illustrator, In Design and Premiere. In the past few years I have been interested in elements of gamification, specifically those that provide opportunities for students to engage with the content in a variety of ways. One of these issues, also addressed by Warnock, is

Goals for my soon-to-be online course:

Having a technology background I thought I would love taking on-line classes. Although I’ve had a few that were good, I would say the majority of them fell short in a number of ways. Naturally, I will try to learn from those negative elements in efforts to build on them and avoid making the same mistakes that left me feeling less that excited about the class. These included:

  1. The Feedback Loop: I completed an online World Language Education teaching class (with lots of writing), and although the content was interesting, we waited and waited for instructor feedback on assignments. In one instance, students began to communicate with each other over the lack of feedback, asking each other if anyone had heard from the teacher. Turns out in this particular instance, the teacher was traveling and had not been “near wifi”. Then all at once we got our graded materials back with a one sentence of constructive feedback.

    In the online/hybrid classes that I teach, I try to respond to students on a regular basis (within 24h) however, much is still done in student conferences. I am looking forward to learning more about the range of tools available to us to respond beyond message boards, word/pdf editing tools and emails.

  2. Respect diverse talents and ways of learning: In the introduction, Warnock speaks of the “humanistic potential” of online writing courses by providing access to individuals who might be challenged to otherwise partake in a course. I fully support this notion of online teaching, however, I am looking forward to learning strategies of how we might address different learning styles in an OWcourse. In the regular classroom, I can easily change direction in the midst of a lesson. I can adjust content according to Gardner’s theory of multiplies intelligences and allow students to complete tasks using different skill sets, i.e. kinesthetic, logical mathematical, interpersonal, etc. I look forward to learning how all of you approach this online to allow for alternative learning styles, “teachable moments”, or inserting content to bolster student success based on the needs of the particular students.
  3. Content Presentation: As a web designer, this is naturally something I am very interested in. I’ve seen many online classes that feature the “I’ve placed everything I could possibly think of on this page to help you succeed” approach. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced that this only has helped students to get lost in a labyrinth of not-so-helpful information. In Curry’s video clip he presented a sample site (ENGL 100) featuring graphics, key access points to guide learners to essential information, and negative space (white space). I look forward learning more about how the principles of visual hierarchy of information (Hick’s law/Fitt’s law) will be viewed by our authors in terms of online class content presentations, and then hopefully applying it to my site.

Best regards,


Technology in the Writing Center
Technology in the Writing Center avatar

My (limited) LMS experiences in a nutshell

My biggest concern with an LMS is if students will have the skills and access to fully utilize the the system to fit their needs and learning style.  When I was teaching a hybrid class at Sacramento State University, I worked primarily with Canvass, and I felt that it was easy to use, and I was able to set up my class and add materials quickly. I also like several aspects of Turnitin for facilitating student feedback online. I like that with Turnitin I could program my quickmarks for some more explicit grammar instruction, and I could highlight where a mistake happened, embed the grammar rule via the quickmark with a built in example, but I would not correct for them, and then the student would be able to try and self-correct later. My beef with Turnitin is feeling Iimited with how thorough and focused I could be with positive and revision-based feedback. The margins just seem to not offer the right amount of space. I cant draw arrows to specific areas of a sentence- something that is part of my feedback pedagogy. I think Blackboard is clunky and generally feels old fashioned to me, but I am interested in learning how to utilize Moodle, I just need the time and motivation. 

At Montana State University, we used Desire to Learn (D2L) and it was pretty awesome. You could create content via drag and drop. You could embed images and there was a web conference option that I tried a few times to have conferences over student drafts. there was even ways to personalize, and create analytics to see how your students were progressing. Students said it was pretty mobile phone friendly too.

Shift to the writing center…

In the Writing Center, If I could invent my own LMS for online writing feedback, it would be an interactive white board that would have an alert and pop up the web cam of the student when they were ready to work. There would be a synchronous way to see the essay on the screen and both myself and the student could capture notes and revision ideas with our finger- I am thinking a sort of drawing tool can write right onto the essay. there would also be a blank whiteboard canvass next to the essay that could be used to capture brainstorming, model sentences, or we could cut and paste in a helpful website or link. There would also be digital sticky notes and highlighting options, so we can better facilitate reading strategies online. I just need a degree in coding and about a million in Angel money funding, and I could invent a platform! Did i say there would also be a recording option, so the student could go back after we signed off and re-visit aspects of our session? I know a lot of this exists, but my experience has been that they crash… so not crashing would be nice. 

Warnock’s argument that students need the skills to utilize the communication tools (19) is one of the main concerns of the Writing Center and barriers to moving towards a synchronous online feedback system. Students without the skills and access face so many barriers from navigating the platform to eating up their appointment time just trying to get online, to not knowing how to upload their draft. Any platform for online synchronous feedback needs to have a high ease of use for our students. Any advice or ideas for upping our online approach or services is appreciated.


The Locura or the Simplicity of Online Teaching?
S. Gutiérrez

As I read Warnock’s “Tech Tools and Strategies: Use Only What You Need,” I realized how insane it was to jump into teaching online while being a digital immigrant.

Seriously, who does that? 

I did.

Warnock chapter makes it seem as if teaching online can be “easy” not the nightmare that I experienced using Blackboard. If technology is not a professor’s first language, of course, he or she will feel like jumping out of a one-story building. Such was my case.

Using several LMS, including Blackboard, Canvas, and Cougar Courses, has allowed me to see that teaching online can be simple as Warnock describes in his table that assesses an online class’s use of technology: Pedagogical Need, Technology for That Purpose, Availability, and Training? Your Learning Curve (20-21).

Several years ago if I had read Warnock’s suggestion “use only what you need” (19) teaching online would have been less intimidating.


From using Blackboard, I learned that it is important for a company to continue to improve its product. The Blackboard team, unfortunately, did not fulfill that demand. Although I am grateful Blackboard was the LMS that I allowed me to experiment with OWcourses. I’m glad I no longer have to use Blackboard. Adios Blackboard—never again.

To begin, Blackboard had awkward glitches. At times, I was unable to delete spaces. Spaces. Other times I could not change a font. A font. I would was waste 30 to 50 minutes fixing a silly little error. Locura.

However, what I do miss from Blackboard is the ability to compile journal entries. I want the online experience to be the same for my online students as it is for my f2f students. In my f2f classes, my students compile their journal entries in a Green Book, where they can witness their growth as critical thinkers and writers.

I also miss the Blackboard Wikis tool. Students could all work on a single document and edit their work and all the information would stay within Blackboard. Canvas did away with Wikis, unfortunately.  (I will continue to explore Canvas.)


I was going to give up online teaching, but luckily for me Mt. San Jacinto College transitioned to Canvas. The new LMS allowed me to be patient with technology. The awkward Blackboard glitches went away! (Remember I shared that I had two questions since the beginning of this spring semester. I revisited my 24-Hour Q&A Discussion Forum, and it was really one question. With Blackboard, I had quite a few questions  . . . .

Canvas has organized my course design and allowed to me easily access student work when I am inputting grades. (I used to open five windows or more to tally up students grades. I no longer have to waste my time doing that. When I access Canvas’s SpeedGrader, a student’s work shows up in one thread. Marvelous!) Canvas has simplified my life as an online professor.

I was happy to see that my online English class does meet the needs Warnock presents in his table with exception of “Create audiovisual materials for students” (I could use more) and “Facilitate group projects.” I used to have an avitar when I first started teaching online in order to avoid seeing videos of me. Awkward. About group projects, how would I approach group projects online? Help.

Cougar Courses

I used Cougar Courses to teach WMST 350: Chicana/Latina Feminism at CSUSM, and I just went with it. I figured it out on my own. Once you are familiar with one LMS, you simply look for a similar tool. The only issue I had with Cougar Courses was the Gradebook. The Gradebook. I talked to two math instructors about the issue; they told me it was too complicated and, therefore, did not use CSUSM’s gradebook. Ha!

It’s a locura to teach online if you are a digital immigrant. But it is rewarding and simple if similar to students if we professors “make sure that all participants have the necessary skill level with the communications tools” (qtd. in Warnock).

As I have matured in the online setting, what can I imagine or would like to see in an online class?

Online Prerequisite

I would require students to take a free one unit prerequisite course prior to taking an online class. Over the years, I observed that the students who dropped did not necessary lack the skills that an online class required. Instead, students lacked self-discipline. For this reason, I would require students to learn that they must be self-disciplined, self-motivated online students. If students could practice in an online one-unit class what it feels to work, do homework, and engage in an online class, perhaps, less students would drop.

A prerequisite component of the class would allow students to practice taking a quiz, submitting assignments including an essay, and participating in discussions, among other activities.

Use the tech, don’t let it use you.
Use the tech, don’t let it use you. avatar

Warnock really knows his audience and therefore starts the chapter off with the perfect guideline for someone like me who is often frustrated and overwhelmed by tech. “Don’t be any more complicated technologically than you have to be.” (19). Sometimes I place too high an expectation on tech tools and become frustrated when it cannot do what I expect it to do. As I read through this chapter I came up with this simple mantra, “use the tech, don’t let it use you.” Therefore as I work on adding more online features to my current f2f and plan my future online course I will focus on simplicity, functionality and purpose for the students while keeping this mantra in mind.

 The LMS Battle – Blackboard, Moodle and Canvas


During my second year in college my chemistry professor introduced Blackboard as a component of the class. I found the platform difficult to navigate, not intuitive and terrible to look at. I think that experience left a bad taste in my mouth, coupled with the fact that chemistry was not one of my favorite subjects. Thankfully I never had to use Blackboard again…although I know it has evolved over the years.


When I first started teaching at the college level I was introduced to Moodle. Since my classes were f2f I used Moodle only for attendance and the gradebook. I was forced to dive deeper into Moddle two semesters later when I was teaching a fully online American Lit class. I really loved Moodle. It was my favorite LMS because it was easily customizable, their turnitin feature was more seamless than Canvas and quiz building was easy. However navigating Moodle is difficult on mobile devices.


I love Canvas support! And for this reason Canvas wins over all the other platforms in my book. Whenever I call the customer care line there is always a knowledgeable and patient service person on the other side to help me. Canvas is also more intuitive than Moodle and more customizable with graphics (although I still think it’s a bit static and can borrow some customization ideas from WordPress). Navigating Canvas is easy on mobile devices and you can almost do anything on your cellphone that you can do on a computer. I think this gives Canvas the biggest edge over the other platforms because mobile is the way of the future. I love Canvas’ mobile interface because I usually ask my students to use their smart phones to look things up or even to complete assignments.

Canvas is the LMS that most closely fits my teaching philosophy and framework because it most closely mimics the in person feel. Canvas’ intuitive tools and environment allows me to customize the experience for my students and myself.

My Comp. Tools:

Canva design tool

Canva (not the LMS) is a design tool that allows you to create beautiful and quick infographics and designs for free on a computer or mobile device.

I love this tool! I usually ask my students to create memes, quotations and graphics from their readings and work. This helps to put them in a creative space so that they can see the work outside the box. Some of the students end up posting their quote images etc. to social media….instagram, twitter, pinterest.


Creative Commons

This site offers music, art and photography in the public space that students can use to make their projects more interesting.



I use this resource to get free images for my content pages for Canvas, my WordPress site and for guest blog posts. The images are amazing and you can find almost anything.

SWANK – Miracosta library

Sometimes we watch movies for class. I usually watch 30-40 minutes of the movie in class as a shared experience and then I share the Swank link so that they can finish watching at home.


Since Zoom is free I was also thinking of incorporating it into group work activities. The groups will be required to meet online at a time convenient to them and record the meeting as evidence. I am also thinking of doing online Zoom meetings as extra credit for my in class group to test the effectiveness of this idea.

I want to offer a few live Zoom meetings in my online class because I believe that communicating in real time through media such as this enhances learning and creates social connection, which is a very important part of the college experience that gets lost in online education.


GoogleDocs, Youtube,

 In Canvas Tools I Love

The Gradebook

Before I discovered the Gradebook I asked my husband to build complicated excel sheets to store my students’ grades and that was just a nightmare. I rely on the Gradebook to store and figure out my grades since it makes the transfer from points to percentage seamless.


This week I worked with a colleague to figure out how to add a rubric to my turnitin assignment…that was loads of fun. Having the rubric directly in Canvas will save me a lot of time and I am so happy that I finally transitioned to online grading rubric (although I haven’t officially used it yet… I will give you guys an update on my experience in the week ahead). I haven’t tried the Canvas rubric tool yet but I intend to try that out for my next assignment.

 Group work and collaboration

Canvas group selection tool is more arbitrary and takes away the work of manually assigning groups. Each group gets their own homepage where they can chat, collaborate on documents and share ideas. This home page allows me to get access to each group’s project and creates a central place for them to share the project on the projector in an f2f class or on a discussion board in an online class.

Peer Reviews

I am thinking of incorporating online peer reviews in my f2f class as practice for my online class. I found tutorial videos on YouTube and I am fascinated by the versatility of online peer reviews. I used to think that I’d have to give this up for an online class but Canvas makes it just as effective and easy to do online as in class.

Here are some interesting tutorials

 Assigning Peer Reviews


Collaboration in class


Setting up shared Google docs


Embed Google slides directly to canvas


Grading discussions


How many new tools per unit?

I think more than three tools per unit is too many. Sometimes too many choices can lead to confusion especially in an online course where you and the students are only communicating on the page. A page that is overcrowded with tech diminishes its usability. As I plan my online course I will try to keep two to three tech options per unit. I will maintain a practice of testing options to see which ones are more favorable with the students. I am not sure if Canvas has any A/B testing features but that would be a great add on to see which resources are most valuable to students so that the course can evolve and reflect the best tools. I want to stay away from the assumption that since I like a tool, the students will also find it effective.

How do you measure if a tool is effective?

This is a great question and it leads me to ask whether or not Canvas has A/B testing capabilities. I think for now the best way to measure is by student feedback. I am using this semester’s f2f as a beta group to test certain tools and get the students’ feedback while we are in the f2f space so that there will be less problems in an online class.

 New tools I learned in this unit:


OMG! Thank you Curry for introducing me to Padlet! Poster boarding is a huge part of my class and I was worried about loosing that in the online space


I signed up for Padlet and I’m going to experiment with it. My only issue is that it seems like I will have to ask each student to sign up and it doesn’t have a doc sharing option like GoogleDocs where more than one student can build a board together. I use poster boarding as a collaboration tool and without this ability it kind of diminishes my purpose.


I love how prezi looks and I would like to experiment with it but I don’t think I want to pay $7/month for something I’m not going to use all the time. I could really see myself using this tool to increase engagement and learning.


On page 26 Warnock suggests that publisher sites can be a great resources for tools through interactive texts and add ons. I haven’t found a text I love yet but as I look around I will bear this in mind. I think having an interactive text with frameworks already built by the publisher is a great added bonus.

P.S. Curry the last FERPA link on the unit page does not work

Also can we get access to a course shell where we can practice the techniques we are learning here in real time?

Technology overload? Deep breaths can do wonders for tech anxiety.
Technology overload? Deep breaths can do wonders for tech anxiety. avatar

Boy, this week was a doozy! All I could think about was how much set-up an online class requires, and hoping that when I teach my first one I’ll have plenty of time to prepare. Warnock makes it seem simple and straightforward, but when I looked at all the possibilities for cool tools out there, it was nothing like simple. How is one to master even a few of these? And how, as Conrad and Donaldson insist, is one to ensure “all participants have the necessary skill level with the communication tools” used in the course (qtd in Warnock 19)? I guess it means I’ll have to make lots of handy teaching videos like curry, which will require me to have even more mastery of the tools than my students.

In my onsite class, I don’t use a ton of technology. I have been using Canvas for a few semesters and love the ease of setting up the course, the possibilities for altering the look of the class, and the course copy option (which I used very effectively this semester for the first time). I use Speedgrader, and I like the options available for grading. It looks so much cleaner than my handwritten scribbles that students had to decipher, and I like that I can mute the comments and work on all the papers together, giving me freedom to revise my comments. When I’m done grading, I unmute so students can see them. As far as wondering if grading online is effective, I have no guarantee that students are looking at my comments. I could assign a response paper about the comments, but I have yet to do that. I figure if students aren’t doing well and are looking to improve, they will look at the comments (Ha! Fingers crossed). To simplify my online course, I plan to use Canvas’ peer editing tool so students don’t have to learn a separate technology from the one they get from me. Plus, Turnitin’s peermark link we looked at this week was insanely overwhelming and caused many of my brain’s synapses to shut down. On the plus side, it made me really appreciate curry’s video on using Canvas’ PeerReview as a much more effective way for students to learn the system. That is, until I started thinking that I would have to make my own video for my own students, and down the rabbit-hole of worry I went: how will I ever make a video like this? I know how to log in as my student self, but that’s the extent of it. How will I get a sample paper to open? How will I assign that person as my student-self’s peer? Okay, deep breaths…

In my f2f classroom I use Google docs to collaboratively add to summaries of difficult texts, quote notes and other items that students can access at home through Canvas. The Google docs info link provided in this week’s bibliography reminded me of two other features that appeal to me: presentation sign-ups and student groups’ chat option alongside the groups’ shared document. Those are two items I haven’t taken advantage of yet, and I plan to implement immediately in my onsite course! I think Google docs could also be used like a big open discussion board, where students can workshop thesis statements or add information about the readings. And there might be some visual appeal to having everyone in one document rather than everyone’s separate threads/posts in a discussion board.

For online class lessons, I’m comfortable with Powerpoint and Prezi for info-heavy material.  I appreciate curry’s notion of Prezi as “interactive, self-pacing, and non-linear,” some traits I think can be effective for our wide range of learners. I haven’t used Prezi much myself, but I like the way the presentations look, apart from making me feel nauseous. I plan to use Screencast-o-matic for mini-lessons showing students how to use an area of our course (like curry has done), or as an addition to a Powerpoint or Prezi. Voice thread was new to me, and seemed cool. I could see starting a discussion of a text this way. I’m just wondering if some of these technologies are tech just to be tech, and not useful enough to warrant using them in a class. I really have to ask myself: does this tool warrant the learning curve? Does it do its job better than anything else? Is it overly complicated? Will we use it often? If any of those answers are “no,” I should probably pass.

I found it interesting/strange that Warnock relied on email for so many of the tasks in his online course. The last thing I want is to have hundreds of emails in my inbox to sort through, and which could very easily get lost in the fray. I’m assuming his heavy reliance on email stems from the book being almost 10 years old. Get revising, Warnock!

Given all the above, Warnock’s “Guideline 9: Don’t be any more complicated technologically than you have to be” (19) is becoming my new motto with the overwhelming amount of information and options this week. If/when I teach online, I’d like to find a few tools to use, mix them up, and use them throughout. I don’t want to overwhelm myself (or my students) with too many programs that all have a learning curve and bugs to work out. My experience with tech is that something always goes wrong with every technology at the beginning. When I first started this online certification, I couldn’t post on wordpress, then saving my screencast to youtube didn’t work, then I couldn’t embed my screencast in wordpress, and so on… Just posting and linking my first blog/video took close to an hour! The more outside websites students have to log in to and get to know is host to at least one student having a problem every time, and I don’t want time taken up with problem solving when I’d rather be teaching.

Whew! Thanks for reading!


Keep It Simple Sister (Kiss)
Keep It Simple Sister (Kiss) avatar

Hi Everyone!


I have had a love/hate relationship for the last ten years with Blackboard (Bb). On one hand Instructional Technologies Services at SDSU have used my Blackboard sites examples of how to set up a class on Bb, as well as have me come in to demo some of the things I do on Bb to other professors. On the other hand, I find Bb clunky and limited like a 1997 website. Over the years, I have figured out (with a help from others and on my one) many workarounds to do what I wanted to do.

Adopting New Technology

Warnock’s Guideline 9 states “Don’t be more complicated technologically than you have to be’ (19). I am pretty good at just trying out on thing at a time. For example, a couple of semesters ago when I started teaching online, I reluctantly started using Turnitin. In my f2f classes, I loved my writing workshops and wasn’t sure in using PeerMark would suit my students’ needs. For what was key was setting up the questions students were asked to answer when they read and gave feedback on each others papers. I believe the questions I have them use asks for specific concepts/ideas inherent to the assignment and to what learning outcomes they will be graded on. Generic questions or questions in “teacherly” lingo don’t work well in my experience.

For my RWS 305W at SDSU and Eng 100 at MC, my students first paper is a memoir/narrative. It helps build a writing community, gets me to my students and their writing. I work a lot on topic selection, narrowing their topics, being specific, using concrete details, and understanding at prompt and audience. I also, though out this, get them to think about how these concepts apply to their academic papers as well. Here are the PeerMark Questions I have my students answer for the papers they review.

I have to say that I still miss my writer’s workshop in my f2f classes, but I have been very happy with PeerMark overall. Students like it, too. What I found most surprising is that my students have told me on many occasions how reading and responding to other student papers helped them to rethink their own paper. Of course this is music to my ears!



I am using Canvas for the first time this semester after going to a couple of workshops and took one of the online courses. I think I will like it better than blackboard. Again, I am keeping it simple. I organized it similarly to my Bb but I am sure that will change over time. I am not using Turnitin and am trying the Canvas assignment peer review. Still getting used to it. I am playing around with creating pages but have not ventured in to html (so scary!) Here’s one of the pages I created for my second paper in Eng 100.



I have my juniors and seniors in RWS 305W create a blog. I have not done this yet with English 100 at MC. I used to let my students pick their own blog platform, but that was hard since I didn’t know all of them. Since last semester, I am using edublog since it is free and it’s the educational version of wordpress. RWS 305W is an upper-division course and as its title says, “Writing In Various Settings.” Students are asked to write a blog about something they are interested in.  I also blogged with them this semester so I could get to know the ins and outs of edublogs. Here is my blog--which has the assignment and posts about troubleshooting.  I also did zoom videos during the semester on how to create your background, reorder your posts on the free version, and the like.

Here are some of my student blogs from RWS 305W

Studying Abroad in Loreto

Ramon “Chunky” Sanchez

Favorite Diner


I don’t think that I would have my freshman create an open-ended blog like this for many reasons. I have had my freshman post their papers on a class blog for their final paper. Here’s the link so you can see it. I liked having them post it since we were writing about technology, but I wish I could link it up to Speed Grader.

I don’t think I would use a blog for an entire class site. I really like having the features built in to a CMS like Canvas and Blackboard. Plus, while I am digitally curious and willing to try new stuff, I don’t want to overwhelm myself nor my students. Right now I can’t even log in to our blog Writing with Machines nor figure out how to post my profile pic and pics on my post.

Baby steps…..

Thanks for letting me share this with you!


A Treatise on Why Moodle Is the Best LMS

Once again, I am probably going to come across as something of a Luddite: to be honest, I like appreciate an LMS that is simple to use and easy to navigate. On that note, I strongly appreciated Warlock’s ninth guideline: don’t be any more complicated technologically than you have to be (19). When I heard MiraCosta was switching from Blackboard and Moodle over to Canvas, I felt a decent amount of apprehension and had quite a few misgivings. Canvas seemed (and honestly in many ways still seems) so difficult to use, at least in comparison to what I was using before, Moodle.

My LMS journey:
It started, of course (as many of ours have), with Blackboard. I used Blackboard as a student during my undergraduate and master’s studies, and thus creating my own course shells on Bb Learn as a teacher was fairly simple. However, Blackboard loves folders (and subfolders, and sub-sub folders), which often confused my students. After several years, I started to put all my resources for a class directly on the homepage. This surprisingly worked well: students accessed online dropboxes with greater ease, and more of them printed the readings out ahead of time.

My favorite LMS:
Eventually, Kelly Hagen introduced me to what would become my absolute favorite LMS, Moodle. I freakin love Moodle. It has everything I ever wanted in an LMS, but chiefly, a blog-style setup with the ability to put everything on one page, easy-to-create Turnitin dropboxes, and quick ways to incorporate any sort of media you can imagine within a matter of seconds.

What works well regarding Moodle:
The usability. As aforementioned, it takes a few minutes tops to create anything you want. When you create a new assignment, video, hyperlink, or other tool, simply clicking “add an activity or resource” opens up a quick-create option. (To see what this looks like, take a look at my attached video at the bottom). I’m an instructor who likes to constantly adjust my resources depending on what my students need; therefore, any computer-based class activities were uploaded to our Moodle page immediately and easily. On the other hand, Canvas always takes a minute or two (if not longer). Everything is very easy to find on Moodle because everything is right there on one page. If you disliked that aspect, it is equally effortless to create new folders or sub-modules. My students never had problems accessing any of the resources I uploaded on Moodle.

Which aspects of Moodle were problematic:
I noticed Curry’s inclusion of Prezi both in the video and in the annotated bibliography for this week’s discussion topic. When I reached that point in his video, I jumped up and shouted some inarticulate happy noise. I absolutely adore Prezi. How many of us have had students immediately ask, upon slide one of a PowerPoint, “is this also online?” With Prezi the answer is always yes. Prezi is basically a prettier, fancier, more creative and more interactive version of PowerPoint that gives the user the option to either keep your presentations private or allow them to stay public and accessible for anyone on the internet. (As a side note, a lot of teachers dislike that facet—some are a bit protective over their lesson plans, and that’s totally fine. I’m not; I like the idea of sharing what works for me, hearing what works for others, and working together with other instructors to create the best possible lessons. I do respect both sides of the argument though).

Prezi is fun. I love it, and so do my students. But, this is where Moodle can be somewhat of a problem: because Moodle streamlines resources, creating a dynamic space where you include notes, a video, and something else all in the same area can be particularly challenging if not impossible. Canvas answers this problem so much better than Moodle, and vastly better than Blackboard.

I really like Curry’s use of providing instructions via a video and a Prezi as well as an actual handout. As he mentions, it allows students to “pace the flow of information” and “linger on examples” which are concepts I’m finding increasingly essential in my courses. (Man Curry, I wish I had a professor like you when I was a student!) Anyway, having various systems students can use to understand a lesson, instructions, or course material is wonderful, and aligns perfectly with my “key-est of key principles” which is to respect diverse talents and ways of learning. By giving students options, they can learn BEST from what they feel most comfortable learning FROM. Therefore, having those resources all there on the same page gives students the freedom to interact with the teaching method they find most natural.

If I could invent my own LMS:
I do have a golden rule with new tools. It is equivalent to my method of evaluating a tool, as well: simply put, does the device seem to be helping my students, or is it superfluous and a waste of space? Or, even worse, does it detract from their actual learning? If an online LMS tool isn’t helping our students, why would we keep it?

I once upon a time used to know how to use simple html to build websites. As a preteen, I played around with website builders such as tripod to create fan sites for books I enjoyed reading as well as my own art and original fiction. Therefore, I like learning management systems that allow for the utmost creativity in the simplest fashion. What I’m imagining is Canvas with the usability of Moodle—a virtual space where I could drag and drop any sort of resource onto any area of the page with every facility.

I’ve now taken two different Canvas classes. The first was a webinar, and the second was the six-week program our amazing and wonderful online educators Jim Julius and Billy Gunn offer. (I even earned the certificate!) Regardless, I still find Canvas tricky in many ways. I’m sure if I were more tech-savvy, it could easily be the sort of LMS I dream of using.

Warlock Notes:
Warlock mentions our goal should be “to get past the technology and start thinking about teaching” and that “the technology should be relatively transparent and unobtrusive” (22). Yes. Yes to the ends of time. The danger in an OWcourse is my students failing to learn what I’m trying to teach because my technology is too complicated. I want to avoid that danger at all costs.

On the other hand, one point in which I disagree with Warlock is on the topic of e-mail. He suggests that “e-mail can do much of the work for [us] in an online class” (23). I welcome and even encourage my students to e-mail me with what I call the one q and four c’s: questions, comments, concerns, confusion, or need for clarification. They seem to feel very comfortable e-mailing me for the most part.

However, I also ask my students to refrain from e-mailing me and asking what the homework is or what we did in class that day. Although this may seem austere, I have that policy in place to do two things: one, it encourages my students to interact with each other. One of the keys to college success is networking and making friends and colleagues who share common goals. I have my students exchange names, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses with several other students at the beginning of each semester; it helps them establish class contacts. The other reason I keep my e-mail policy in place is to encourage students to look at the syllabus. By this, I do not mean solely at the beginning of the semester; rather, I advise them to keep it on-hand as a resource they refer back to. I include a detailed schedule of what we do in class as well as what the homework is for every lesson. By looking at what we do each day, they stay mentally organized and on task.

Warlock jests “the new version of ‘the dog ate my homework’ is ‘my computer crashed’” (27). I also advise my students to make sure they have access to internet, printers, etc. A common e-mailed concern follows along the lines of “my computer crashed and therefore I couldn’t turn the assignment in.” I’m sure many of us are familiar with that old chestnut. I would like to think that most of these e-mails are met with a patient (though at times strained) compassion from me, but I also have started to include a disclaimer recommending they don’t wait until the last minute. I also suggest to my students that they be aware of their local libraries and other options for submitting online work.