Many thanks to Tony Burman for his rendition of the classic Coca-Cola theme from my childhood- I remember Tony mentioning integrating these kinds of “commercial breaks” or pauses into both his onsite and online courses. I tried that this semester in my onsite class- I put up some memes about essay writing in my ENGL 100 class and students really got a kick out of them- so to keep it student centered, I had them work in groups to develop their own memes about the day’s reading which they then posted on a discussion thread on our course Canvas page. It was super fun and the students were definitely engaged, working to make decisions both about which meme template to use, and also about how to best represent core ideas from the text.
This also ties into Warnock’s focus on “chunking” in the OWS. In my nascent planning for my first online course, and admiring curry’s ability to parcel out information in an accessible and digestible manner, Warnock, in his citation of Smith, reinforces the importance of chunking in the online course: ” ‘Content presented in one long segment is much less effective for learning than the same content broken down into several smaller segments’ ” (31). As I consider this advice, I think I will keep a weekly schedule at the forefront of student’s access points to the course, that is, do it much like curry does for WwM- each week will be “live” as the week arrives- on Sundays or Mondays. Students will then access the week’s work as it comes up. For longer projects (essays), students will get reminders and can consult the syllabus for dates.
Also, Tony’s modeling of how to import onsite strategies for student-centered content really seemed to be a useful and viable path for getting students engaged with the daily/ weekly work. I could see using Google Docs and Discussion threads to start to activate their ideas about readings- using columns on the Google doc to chart connections between challenging texts- and then opening up a discussion thread for students to respond to one another and ask questions.
Interestingly, in Chapter 4, Warnock brings up a lot of compelling options/ suggestions but then seems to kind of move on without developing the category much. In the Games and Simulations section, he suggests, “Part of our class ‘workshop’ could involve, at some point, offering and perhaps taking part in these kinds of games with our students” (35). I would’ve like to have him expand on this more, why would this be a useful or compelling modality for getting students more actively engaged. I guess it’s time for me to do further research. Also, I know a lot of the WwM peeps are using games as a way to initiate class activities and discussion- how would this look in an online course?
In Tony’s video, I really appreciate the way he defines student-centered teaching using Frerian concepts. More specifically, Freire in “The Banking Concept of Education” says that in traditional educational settings “Education …becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the “banking” concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filling, and storing the deposits.” Instead, Tony argues, we should think about ways to deliver course content so that it is student-centered and students are involved in the production of knowledge and development of critical consciousness. The question then is how do we do that in an online course? How do we use the technologies and modalities available to us in an online environment in ways that are student-centered, so that “when I enter the classroom I should be someone who is open to new ideas, open to questions, and open to the curiosities of the students as well as their inhibitions. In other words, I ought to be aware of being a critical and inquiring subject in regard to the task entrusted to me, the task of teaching and not that of transferring knowledge” (Pedagogy of Freedom, 49).
Some of what was most important for me from Tony’s video:
The question of how to use the technologies and modalities that are available in online teaching in ways that are student-centered?
Don’t let technology dictate pedagogy: Instead think of how you can use technology to enhance the ways your teaching enacts your teaching philosophy
Certain modalities are not necessarily more/less student-centered: it’s more about what you do with each tool; developing a student-centered habit of thought around your use of technology in the class
Don’t Lecture too much, provide short mini lectures about a single topic and provide opportunities for students to practice, question, and apply
Don’t design your entire course, design your materials then teach the course so that each week is dynamic
Most importantly: enjoy the experience and give yourself permission to play: be silly, sing, wear a funny hat, read a good poem, include a video of you dropping into the biggest bomb of the winter…
In response to Warnock’s Chapter 5, I really appreciate the way this chapter is structured: He boils down “teaching strategies to several basic approaches” (28) and then dedicates a chunk of this chapter to a discussion of how you would migrate each approach from a f2f course to an online environment. This is supper practical as I can see myself, reaching for the book as I am trying to figure out how to migrate x online:)
Warnock includes a quote by Elizabeth Ashburn, that is worth repeating here “teaching content that is central to the discipline and also relevant to student’s lives is a …fundamental attribute for designing meaningful learning experiences.” When I read this I immediately thought of a conversation I am totally immersed in within Writing Studies around the theme of our writing courses and more specifically, the movement towards Writing About Writing themed courses. When I first read about the idea of having the “theme” of the writing class be writing knowledge, an introduction to Writing Studies, I was very unsure–because it would mean, for me, doing away with the culturally responsive themes I use in my courses–yet the more I read and the more I listen to what Douglas Down, Elizabeth Wardle, and Howard Tinberg have to say the more I see how I can do both, teach culturally responsive Writing About Writing courses in which, for example, rhetoric is a threshold concept, yet my introduction to the concept includes both its Greco-Roman roots and what Damian Baca calls Rhetorics of the Americas. While this may seem like a tangent, I am reading Warnock at the same time that I am rethinking my courses, so that everything Warnock is teaching me about teaching writing online is through this filter of the really exciting conversations about Writing About Writing and Teaching For Transfer I am sort of caught up in.
Here is the idea I included in the google doc asking us to write about one student-centered activity: Students in my class complete a “funds of Knowledge” (FoK) double-entry reading journal in which they keep track of how their home “funds of knowledge” are informing their reading of a particular text. On the day we are to discuss or work with the reading in class, we begin that discussion by sharing in groups, using the active learning stations, what we recorded in our FoK double-entry reading journal. This way the discussion begins with us thinking about reading as an interaction between literary and general repertoires.
Here is how I might migrate this activity online:
I would have students watch a YouTube video by one of the folks in multicultural/bilingual education who coined the term
Then I would do a mini video lecture taking students through handout I have that explains what a dialectical reading journal is and how this particular journal is asking them to include their response and emphasize their funds of knowledge i.e. how what you are bringing from “home” is informing your reading
Students would then read the text on their own and complete/submit their dialectical reading journal assignment on Canvas
Students would then get into groups of 3 or 4 and respond to the reading journals using the collaborations tool on Canvas
The activity would end with a short paragraph where each student responds to a discussion asking them to reflect on how this assignment and the conversations they had with their peers changed or shifted the way they think about reading
I appreciate Warnock’s focus, in these chapters, on translating student-centered learning (which is, as he says, central to the discipline and relevant to student lives (28)) into the online space using methods we usually already utilize within the composition classroom, such as the Socratic method. I also am excited that he does, though very briefly, acknowledge what we might call emerging methods (such as video games (35))–since otherwise his methods of content development seem very old school and based in traditional understandings of textuality.
(This is reflected to me in his chapter on syllabus development, which, while useful in places, and claiming to be about rethinking the syllabus of an online class, is essentially the type of syllabus already being produced by composition instructors for f2f classes, at least in our department. I was really into, though, the idea of a syllabus as a “working relationship” (46).)
Moving in these more multimodal directions would be my interest in online teaching–not necessarily using a game like Second Life to mediate class connections (which I’m very skeptical about), but finding ways to bridge the synchronous and asynchronous in spaces that already combine those two methods of content delivery. I want to find some way to create a space that would be fun for everyone, including me, and would minimize work while still being a rigorous environment; this follows along the lines of Warnock’s idea that “[b]y using electronic tools intelligently, you can look past the simple and spend your precious teacher preparation time innovating and thinking of big-picture problems that you want to solve in your courses” (37). This is what I am more interested in doing: innovating and getting me and my students to think big picture, instead of being bogged down in minutiae, which is what I am worried about the most in terms of teaching on online class. Delivery methods like email, for instance, seem better suited for and to encourage that minutiae and small things that are often not incredibly important. (We talk about the importance of email in online teaching, but I imagine an electronic space where we can bypass email altogether – and the terribleness of the Canvas “inbox”).
I do have one point of disagreement with Warnock’s ideas in these chapters. He claims that students are not used to being passive in a Web 2.0 environment, which goes against my experience, though it’s funny because in my ENGL 100 I have students read both sides of this debate – on one hand, Henry Jenkins, who sees new media tools and convergence culture as transforming consumers into agents and giving people the tools to be more active in their engagement with content, and on the other hand people like Clay Shirky and Sherry Turkle, who see new media as ruining our minds and relationships be giving us more passive ways of relating to content and to others. I probably, personally, agree more with Jenkins ultimately, but in classroom contexts Web 2.0 does encourage passivity that has to be actively countered with the type of agency Jenkins suggests. In other words, students don’t see agency immediately, so things have to be done deliberately and not with so much of the optimism Warnock seems to have.
So aside from come punny wordplay in the title, I wanna get all simulacrum today by first quoting the quote that Tony quoted from Jim:
“We will not be defined by our online learning spaces. We are shapers of space, the masters of innovation. And whatever damn system the American higher education consumer market imposes upon us—we shall rise above and create something engaging and empowering for students.”
Given the theme of this week’s lesson, I couldn’t help thinking about the pronoun “we” and its relationship to students. While I love being the shaper of space and the master of innovation, this unit has me wondering how I can help students shape their own intellectual space while mastering innovative learning environments (or compositional environments). How do we (teachers and students) collectively create something engaging and empowering for everyone? How do we make sure that students define their online learning spaces rather than letting these spaces define them?
Warnock provides a lot of solid suggestions that allow us to leverage online technologies with student-created content, and we’ve proposed many excellent ones. Canvas, Google Docs, WordPress, Instagram, and other platforms all provide outlets for us to encourage students to create and share content in online spaces. Honestly, the idea of student generating content feels a bit easier in OWcourses than f2f—BUT I stand to be proven wrong! When it comes to student-created content in an OWcourse, I’ve been thinking about doing the exact reverse of what we do here.
(Big shout-out to Yolanda’s post from last week that kind inspired what follows): Rather than posting a blog and then sharing it on a discussion board where we chat about it, I am thinking about using Canvas Discussions as a place to brainstorm and WordPress as a place to publish. Discussion boards will act as a semi-private space where students can explore and revise ideas while being in conversation with their peers. The WordPress is a student-shaped space where they are free to demonstrate their mastery over innovative digital technologies. Students can create and cultivate their own unique blogs where they can post polished writing in public venues. This enables them not only to share their work with broader audiences, but it also allows them to think about the transformation of learning material into live content. Moreover, these blogs can act as digital portfolios that highlight the evolution of a students’ work over the course. Students can also freely personalize their blogs to reflect their own goals for their site.
To be sure, while Google Docs and Course Discussions are vital tools in an OWCourse, I want to find outlets that encourage “individual students to make individual decisions” that enhance their composition (quote from Tony), and I feel like having them design an online writing presence can facilitate that. All together, I want students to recognize that they too are shapers of space and masters of innovation who can also learn to create something engaging and empowering for themselves and others.
I really enjoyed the concrete ideas presented in “Taking a Learner-Centered Approach in Online Courses” by Errol Craig Sull.
Be a constant presence for suggestions and insights. I find this true in my f2f courses, and so I’m sure it’s even more important online. When I design an activity for my groups, I try to mirror the activity using a different topic. I also include a PowerPoint that tells them what is expected at every step, plus I circulate between the groups only intervening if they ask a question or if they are way off track.
Post mini-lectures that translate into ultra important. I also find this important and now break all my content into smaller chunks on PowerPoints that I show in class and that remains on the Canvas site for their review. Personally I don’t have an hour to listen to a podcast even if I like the content, so how could I expect students to listen to something for some outrageously long period of time that they may not even be interested in.
Offer an engaging variety of assigned and supplemental readings. I now have over 20 articles posted on my course Canvas site that range in topics from happiness to arguments on banning certain dog breeds to careers in the next 30 years and the list goes on. I use these to talk about argument, audience, etc. and sometimes just to make them aware of an issue.
Get students actively involved in the course. As I mentioned in my blog posting, I include a series of short writing assignments in the beginning of ENG100 which necessitates that they find videos, blogs, ads, etc. for analysis and class discussion.
Know that students have a variety of learning styles. I think that variety in readings and activities helps meet this basic need.
He said that if we (TA’s) are working harder than the students, we’re doing something wrong. I appreciate the reinforcement of student-centeredness in Tony’s video. Being a bit old school and a product of lecture-heavy instruction when I was a student has influenced my pedagogy and classroom practices to a small degree. Fortunately, my graduate school classes and instruction were far more student-centered and have provided that model to integrate with my earlier influences. I still advocate for the value of a solid, well-intended lecture, but I am excited about deconstructing that mode of teaching into an online platform. I am equally excited about creating the sort of opportunities Tony notes ala Friere for students to discover and create their own knowledge with careful (though not microscopically managed) instructional guidance.
Soooo..Google Docs and Discussion Board will likely be my go-to tools to achieve the aforementioned. I will practice creating Group Sets using the People tool in Canvas- I’d like to hear/read more about how my online-teaching colleagues set up groups online and how their students like doing online group work. I will be honest, however: if I were a student today taking an online class, I’d likely do some eye-rolling about the prospect of online groups because I’d anticipate the logistics of it might be complicated. I’d want, as an instructor, to be sure that the outcomes for such exercises would be well worth the extra trouble for students.
Ch 4: A few takeaways for me:
Present content in chunks, modules perhaps. I think I planned on doing some version of units that will likely look like modules.
Use books. I may ask students to buy a writer’s workbook and a novel or two. I generally include two full-length books in my classes. Currently I use novels (actually one memoir, one novel), but I have been planning to use one non-fiction.
Use chat. I learned the terms synchronous and non-synchronous in the context of communication in online classes in the reading, and will try both. I like the idea of scheduling group chats and one-on-one chats for conferencing. I may use video chat for conferencing, but I’m less inclined to do this. I’m not sure students would like this mode of discussion. If I were a student taking an online class, I think I’d be sort of horrified by having to video chat with my professor and frankly I anticipate feelin the same way chatting via video with students.
I would like to see what Whiteboard tech is…soon as I get time :/
From the Higher Ed link “Taking a Learner-Centered Approach in Online Courses”:
Students have a variety of learning styles. I will absolutely factor this fact, as I always do in my onsite classes, in an online class by assigning exercises that require not only reading and writing, but also hearing and viewing ala music, visual art, and film. Asking students to visit places or do something outside of class “mixes things up” a bit and keeps course material fresh. For example, I have had an exercise asking students to “read” the night: go to some specific (SAFE!!) place at night, observe, listen, and record what they see, hear, smell, feel, and think and then write about the experience. We read various pieces of literature in which authors write about or describe the night.
Because I have not yet created an online course, this participation in WWM has so far been awesome. I thought migrating my curricula into an online platform (am I using that term correctly?) would be relatively easy, but now I realize, because of the incredibly vast gamut of useful tools and options available, creating a course will be challenging in the best and most exciting way. I am so impressed with my colleagues’ knowledge (and writing!) displayed in these posts and am honored to be in this community.
Great questions, great topics and Who is John Galt?
Other LMS I have used include Blackboard, and because I have worked as a tutor outside of MCCnworking with students taking online classes (mostly high school), I have seen a few other systems. I have worked in Brigham Young Online (I don’t know what LMS was used), and have taught using APEX Learning Online. What I recall mostly from both systems is lots of multiple choice and short answer questions. These systems presented information in units using various delivery systems (podcast, text with links), quizzes using the aforementioned methods, rinse, and repeat. I liked the predictability and organization though overall the course material, because of the lack of community and interaction, was forgettable. These programs were quite rigorous, perhaps even more so than some college courses: lots and lots of assigned texts, tests, and written assignments.
The tools I foresee using are
podcast- I see Curry’s videos are created using Screencast-o-matic. Even though I am averse to seeing my face on video, I think some students may be curious and feel more connected to the course. I might use WedCam and fireside video from my living room. I may even throw in some live music (that’s always happening at my house).
Simply Text with concise lecture/instructional information- using Pages I suppose
Hypothesis (I just added the app to my Eng 100 Canvas: I clicked on the link from Curry’s bibliography- will be looking through others from that list- I like this app’s capability of notating web pages and sharing those same pages with others to comment collaboratively. I haven’t used it yet but will work through it)
Google slide presentations, though I may explore Prezi. I already have several GS presentations that I use in the classroom
Comment function on Google Docs (does that go without saying?)
Links to music: youtube, Spotify? I use music a lot in my classes.
Blog for sure
Turnitin for essay submission
Email of course
Links to full-length films (Films on Demand, Kanopy)
Virtual tours through museums or beautiful (or not so beautiful) places in the world
An app for students to upload videos that they have created (screencast-o-matic, Arc?)
Screen time office hours and conferences (?) Perhaps through messaging? I’d like to know what other instructors do for online conferencing
I still have to explore using Modules and tools for creating groups. I currently do not use those features in my onsite class Canvas.
While browsing through apps via Canvas, I saw many e-graders, so my idea here is likely not new but here goes anyhoo. If I were to invent my own tool (as per the question posed for this week), it would some variation of an interactive e-grader (?) that includes friendly comments and editing recommendations that are more intimate and precise than ones that are currently available and can read and evaluate an essay in real time along with the student, stopping and commenting (in real time) when there are editing issues.
Guideline 9: comforting. Though I consider myself technologically adept, I don’t want to feel pressured into including the bells and whistles referenced in Warnock. When I have taken and worked with students who are taking online classes, I get a bit flustered with complicated instructions and too many links. I also find too many images to be overwhelming. And I will likely not use graphic novel-structured pages as impressive as they are. I plan on creating a simple launch page with a link for each week and then I will plan the rest from there.
Two additional points from Warnock:
Second Life sounds interesting and I will definitely explore the possibilities with virtual worlds. Because literature is largely about story-telling, I can foresee creating imaginary worlds from stories we study might be very exciting even if, no doubt, challenging.
Lastly, Warnock’s advice about flexibility is well taken. Computers…sheesh.
This chapter is near and dear to me. I taught my first hybrid class via BB, and I worked with another professor who was really tech savy. We created linked videos, zoom lesson plans, imbeded elements, blog, discussion boards, and I felt really relevant and “cool” with our fnished product. The only element I did not take into consideration was the ability level of my class and my ability to maintain and keep all the moving parts going after my savy friend moved on to her class. My frustatration level during that semester (and no doubt that of my students, was terrible. Warnock says, “don’t be any more complicated technologically tha yo uhave to be,” and “[make] sure that all participants have the necessary skill level with the communication tools that will be used during your course” (19). My live Zoom office hours were dark and silent, I have dozens of panicked emails, and 1/3 of the class dropped. I was so sure that I was being cool.
Communication: The table on page 20 is brilliant, expecially the parts that say, “Im not sure yet how I will do this.” I eventually did away with (for a bit) live videos and replaced them with recorded desktop recording of me discussing elements of a paper and replaced Zoom office hours with email meeting and sharing google docs (we were both on the Doc at one time). This was so much less stressful, my students were comfortable with the format, and I relaxed and concentrated on their writting and not on how impressive my site was. I learned than the online classes are made up of an even more diverse group of students than the f2f classes, and I went back to the basics and built my way up over the next few semesters.
Now, I try to implement one new tool per semester or replace one tech with another, so I can keep my concentration on the students. I am still sooooo impressed with what I see on other’s online classes or when I take a class myself, I have started emailing the professor and asking what the process was to get to the product I see, and I can add this information to my table. I now use a module system (based on assignments) and each module is self contained with instructions, links, upload sites, and imbed videos (both mine and others), and I am happy with the content, but I am looking to change up the format and am really excited about moving what I have fully to the canvas system. I fully embrace the idea that I should, “learn only the tools you know you will need” (23). But I also dont know what I need (and I love new stuff) until I see it.
So I’m gonna be like everyone else and mostly be chill with Canvas at the moment. Throughout my time as a student and instructor, I’ve used Blackboard, Canvas, and another one that I can’t totally remember the name of… I’ve honestly found Canvas to be the most intuitive and adaptable of any LMS that I’ve used so far. While there are definitely limitations to it that I’ll probably become more frustrated with as I migrate more to OWC, I agree with Erica that I don’t want my students to have to juggle too many different LMS or websites. Requiring students to familiarize and refamiliarize themselves with different LMS seems like it could detrimentally affect their investment in my course because it requires so much preliminary work. For this reason, I’ll probably stick with this and with tools that can easily be learned or integrated into Canvas.
In past courses and teaching workshops, I’ve experimented with different programs for publishing student writing (TimelineJS/StoryMapJS) and mining documents for word frequencies and placements (Voyant). I do incorporate Voyant into my teaching to help teach students pre-reading strategies, and it’s been received pretty well. Voyant is just a website that reads PDFs, websites, and Word Docs and organizes that data into various kinds of interactive graphs. In particular, students like the word clouds (which helps identify main points) and word location charts (which helps relocate passages). The transformation of textual information into visual representations also helps students who are not as success at reading texts linearly. This program can give them new in-roads to help orient them to the course material. I don’t try to overburden students with this tool, but I definitely use it when we are reading complicated, dense material.
For today’s blog, I continued exploring my interest in how digital platforms can enhance reading practices by playing with Perusall. OMG! Y’ALL! I’m like so obsessed with this program, and I highly recommend everyone try it out! This is an incredibly user-friendly platform that lets you have reading groups collectively read and annotate PDFs! You basically just have to register (with the option of linking it to your Canvas site, which I didn’t do but probably will for future courses). It provides a really quick and easy guided-tour of how to use the platform. You can upload the PDFs for your class. Organize students into different groups. Mark PDFs with highlighter or comments. You can had hashtags and tag other people. In short, it very much feels like a combination of Abode Reader, Twitter, and Canvas.
I haven’t used this platform before, but I think I’m going to try to use it in class in the next coming weeks. I’ve been trying to think of more interactive and more collaborative forms of reading for the last few years (because I’ve always been an Elle Woods searching for a study group), and I really think this is it. In my class this semester, I’ve teased them with the prospect of this program, so I’m going to schedule in some time next week to introduce it to them and try to make it a regular part of our class this semester. I will keep everyone posted on how it goes!! (Also, as far as I can tell, it doesn’t cost money…)
Also, not sure if anyone else thinks it might be fun to try. But I’d be happy to try to make a Perusall group for us where we can collaboratively read! 😀
Since I am still grappling with how to best use Canvas in my onsite classes and considering how to best plan my summer online course, I am going to stick with Canvas as the CMS I interrogate this week. Would Ayn Rand approve? Or argue that my free will has been overrun by zombies?
But seriously, Warnock’s charge to keep it simple resonates. Paradoxically, sometimes I think I keep it too simple and not simple enough. I use Modules, Group Discussions, Attendance, SpeedGrader, Announcements as my main tools in Canvas. But students still see Files, Collaborations, Chat, Google Drive, and Name Coach as navigable options. One concrete step I need to take is to limit the options that I don’t actually ask students to engage with. The truth is that I still fell a bit overwhelmed by all of the options and I tend to fall back on what has worked sufficiently in the past. But I want to do better!
Warnock’s suggestion to chart out needs/tech/ availability / training seems especially useful. And I plan to implement this practice as I plan my online course. I like the idea of mapping out a table/ chart that I can look at and interact with in an analogue space- on a white board or bulletin board.
One current frustration I have with Canvas is SpeedGrader, and in discussion with colleagues, we agreed that something that looks more like the comment function on Google docs would be helpful/ useful to include in a CMS. Which brings me to another spot on my to-do list which would be to investigate and learn how to use the Google Drive link on my Canvas courses. My ideal would be to incorporate plenty of videos to communicate with students, weekly missives from my desk to their inboxes, and I think these communications, as Warnock suggests, can go a long way in communicating important info to students. So I plan to keep getting more comfortable with Screencast-O-matic and Zoom, but perhaps my ideal CMS would have its own in-house video recording program.
Lastly, I thought Warnock’s suggestion to use a telephone, thought “it seems quaint,” to be an interesting take. I am currently doing coursework to get a Postsecondary Reading and Learning Certificate from CSU Fullerton. The courses are all online, but during the first course my instructor held office hours over the phone, and I have to say it was quite nice to be able to speak and interact with someone. Granted, the class only had 5 students, but I think if the schedule allows, maybe setting up a time to take phone calls from students might be a useful/ helpful way to build community and ease anxiety with our students. Or maybe working in more synchronous meetings/ office hours. Looking at the University of Central Florida’s seminars would be a good next step to get the ball rolling here.