Exploring Possibilities
Exploring Possibilities avatar

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.

Curry’s Video

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
  • YouTube
  • 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.

Chapter 3/Warnock

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.


Technology and Online Tools
Technology and Online Tools avatar

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. 

Peruse All This Post

Greetings everyone!

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! 😀

Course Managing my Pedagogical Philosophies
Course Managing my Pedagogical Philosophies avatar

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. 

See you all soon!


Learning Management Systems: A dash of Luddism, to go with the ludic
Learning Management Systems: A dash of Luddism, to go with the ludic avatar

After reading this, I realize how stream-of-consciousy this post is, and how I more looked at the larger question of technology, rather than tools. I also pre-emptively got grumpy about Arc, only to find love for Arc in above comments. Otherwise, enjoy!

I have to admit, the idea of “going rogue” sounds appealing to me—it’s inherently part of my pedagogy and the strategies I use in the classroom. At the same time, I’m also going through a period where I feel like trying to do complex things technologically is getting in the way of getting students to go rogue with me when it comes to content and activities. I find myself increasingly hesitant to use new technology or to even branch out in terms of learning management systems. Canvas is there, it (sometimes) works.

I find myself even getting grumpy when new tools pop up in Canvas—what was it this semester? Arc? I don’t know what Arc is yet, but all I know is that the symbol looks like Cauldron symbols from the game Horizon Zero Dawn (See Super Important Figure 1) and the name makes me think of riding dinosaurs with machine guns attached to them (a la Ark: Survival Evolved; See Super Important Figure 2)

Super Important Figure 1: Aliens are taking over Canvas…

Super Important Figure 2: …and they are bringing dinosaur machine guns

I also just noticed that the A in the Ark image also looks like the Cauldron symbols…conspiracy!

Now that I’ve made this connection, I am realizing how apt it is: the overarching idea of Horizon Zero Dawn is that humans, relying heavily on an increasingly incomprehensible technological sublime, managed to nearly wipe themselves out, leading to the game’s world, sparsely populated by less advanced tribal peoples and burgeoning theocracies. Will Canvas lead to the end times? Well, maybe. But I’m at least finding a new to recenter some of Warnock’s advice: “Don’t be more complicated technologically than you have to be” (19); “the technology should be relatively transparent and unobtrusive” (22). Though a lot of what Warnock says sounds a bit bonkers to me, I’m increasingly drawn to the simplicity of his type of online teaching (and, as far as I can tell, the norm of online teaching–where not many “tools” are actually used), even as I struggle, too, with his focus on normative textualities.

Exhibit A, “The Padagogy Wheel,” from one of the links under Northeastern’s “Build your Own Interactive Content” website (which needs to be enlarged twenty times to actually be legible, if not comprehensible). In theory, this is a great idea—all of those tools are probably something at least one student would find learning value in. At the same time, nearly none of them are likely essential to a learning environment or things that should haphazardly be thrown in a class without many layers of reflection. The way they are presented is also overwhelming, a hodgepodge of everything from Twitter to DropBox to TED that is essentially a who’s who of every app in existence. Sure, pretty much everything can be a teaching tool, but are they necessary for critical engagement?

Canvas is starting to feel somewhat overwhelming to me, let alone my students (and I hope I’m not the only one who was freaked out about Google Drive being linkable directly to Canvas). Right now I like simplicity—that Canvas offers a shared spaced to give students access to materials and instructions. It’s in the materials and instructions that I hope to go rogue, that the experiences are meaningful less so than the number of different ways those experiences can be produced for students.

(I do have to say, though I haven’t heard of Notebowl before now, beyond looking a little too much like Canvas with a Facebook Newsfeed, I like what I see so far in terms of more easily facilitating conversations between students and instructors without the need for the “formality,” over-thought, and repetitiveness of email.)

I guess, then, simplicity and ease of communication are my goals right now (and seem to be Warnock’s, too). For online teaching, this will probably also expand to include tools, which I can embed on Canvas, to simulate some of the more important aspects of teaching; for instance, annotation tools (like Hypothesis) and sharing/collaboration tools (like Google docs). I do see Canvas as a valuable space, as long as it can be used to curate productive exploration of course materials (through embedding videos and collaborative spaces and linking between pages) or creating a course narrative (I think back to the course-as-graphic-novel idea that came up last week). But when it comes to “tools,” I fear about overwhelming myself and students.

Exploring the Pedagogical Value of Blogs in the Writing Class
Exploring the Pedagogical Value of Blogs in the Writing Class avatar

I really appreciate Warnock’s Guideline 9: which basically says that when it comes to technology less is more.  Keep it simple, especially when you are just starting to teach online and use a table (p. 20-21) to be strategic about what you will begin with and get the right mix—then expand later, as you develop your courses.  This was super useful advice.

A few years ago I chucked the course management system altogether and experimented with a course done entirely on blogs.  I was teaching at a school that had a clunky course management system and clunky faculty support to go with it.  I think it was Blackboard, yet there were always issues and there were just endless clicks to get anything done so out of frustration with the school’s course management system and also out of excitement about the pedagogical use of blogs, I did a whole course using linked blogs. 

The course was called Redefining America and all of the course content, syllabus, readings, daily agenda/homework was posted on a blog by that name.  The class was held in a room where each student had access to a laptop.  At the beginning of the class, we read a few articles about the importance of developing your digital literacy skills: how our “information age” requires new literacies; how successful participation in new media culture is the new hidden curriculum (Jenkins); and via Elizabeth Clark, how we needed to “reshape our pedagogy with new uses of the technologies that are changing our personal and professional lives?” (28).  We also spent two days settings up our blogs and linking them or following each other.

I had discovered blogs and blogging and the world just looked and smelled sweeterJ  I read everything I could find on using blogs in the writing class: Charles Tyson, Elizabeth Clark, Richardson’s definition of blog as a genre.  I wanted to know the pedagogical potential of using blogs and blogging in the composition classroom? 

According to Richardson “blogs facilitate what I think is a new form of genre that could be called “connective writing,” a form that forces those who do it to read carefully and critically, that demands clarity and cogency in its construction, that is done for a wide audience, and that links to the sources of the ideas expressed.” The interactivity in blogs facilitates collaboration and social writing.  How cool is that! He even mapped out the differences between traditional writing and blogging:

writing stops                            blogging continues

                                                (is an ongoing process)

writing is inside                       blogging is outside

writing is monologue               blogging is conversation

writing is thesis                       writing is conversation

Write what you know              Write to think through what to state truth/facts you know—to question and explore it

Following Charles Tyson I was going to use blogs to create  “engaged citizenship” where  “students were no longer passive observers but participants in a larger conversation that extended well beyond the walls of the composition classroom” (Tyson 131).  My students were also going to understand the power of literacy and why writing matters, like Clark, who writes that her students “are immersed in the immediacy of writing, their power as authors, and their ability to comment publicly in the sphere of intellectual exchange” (34).  And finally via Benson and Reyman using blogs in the writing class was going to help me develop audience awareness, genre awareness, and social engagement (the ability to make real-life connections).  Oh, and did I mention that putting all the readings as pdfs on the course blog meant this was a zero textbook cost class? 

Folks writing about the pedagogical value of blogs in the composition class emphasize the idea that you use blogs to do other things, non-conventional, non-traditional kinds of tasks, you don’t set up a blog to do the same things you do on paper without blogs, you use blogs to encourage different kinds of reading, writing, and thinking¾different “habits of thought.”  So did I succeed here?   Hm….not sure, I suppose you can check out some of the blogs my students produced are they redefining America? They are linked to the Redefining America course blog.  Braden Young, a Chinese-American student from San Francisco’s Chinatown used his final project to help us rethink Chinatown in new ways.


From my experience, here are the benefits of using blogs in our writing classes:

Blogs can:

1. Teach students the new literacies they need

2. Expand the walls of the classroom

3. Archive the learning that teachers and students do—provide a place for metacognitive reflection

4. Support different student learning styles

5. Helps students develop rhetorical sensitivity and practice rhetorical analysis

6. Help students engage in ongoing conversations and enact their power as authors

7. Teach students that writing matters i.e. change how students think of themselves in relation to writing

I look forward to reading your posts and if you’ve tried using blogs let me know how it went for you



Canvas avatar

Canvas seems to contain all or most of the features needed to provide the environment necessary for my needs as an online instructor.

I like the way Curry embeds video introductions into the beginning of each unit, and I plan to do that also. My first question is: do we need to provide a transcript of these videos so that someone who can’t hear them (whether because of an impairment or equipment problems) can access their content?

A second question I have about video is that when I used Screencast-O-Matic for the blog in this course, I had to link to it, but Curry embeds the video in the lesson? Is this a feature of Canvas?

Curry also mentions using Zoom early in the semester to get to know students one-on-one. I like this idea, but I assume that this is outside Canvas and you simply send them a link.

Warnock’s lists include some of the following that are very important to me:

Quick interaction with a student: Course announcements and the built-in email currently meet my needs in my f2f class, but I think the addition of video from my end and an introductory video from the students will increase communication for an online course.

Readings and conversations around them:  I feel that the traditional discussion boards in Canvas have and will work well for that. This necessitates tracking who is participating and what is the quality of the postings/responses.

Workshop-like peer evaluation: I followed the link in this unit to Peer Mark, and it seems to be a tool that I would use in an online course because it allows for a guided peer review with I think is important.

Interaction with students about their writing: Besides the traditional written comments, Canvas’s built-in SpeedGrader provides audio and video capabilities for interacting with the student about their writing assignment, which would help students tremendously to improve their writing and feel committed to an online course.

Presentations: I use PowerPoints in my f2f class often since it provides a record of what’s been presented and allows students to go back and review the content. I checked out Prezi this week and could see how migrating to that might be useful.

Group projects: I use group projects for small in-class exercise’s and also for a collaborative writing assignment. Canvas also provides the ability to use Google docs that would work well in an online course.

Use of technology
Use of technology avatar

To be honest, I am Cave-man-esque when keeping up with technological tools let alone mastering them.  I often feel that it’s just overwhelming with so many offerings, evaluating each one, and then implementing them in my class or LMS.  I only have experience with BlackBoard and Canvas. I think Canvas’ layout, user-friendliness, and navigational simplicity is much more intuitive than BB.  That being said, here are a few tools that I love to use for Canvas:

Collaboration: Google docs/Office 365 – Just a matter of preference really, what your students are more accustomed to and what your college’s LMS offers. I use this for group/class notes, projects/presentations, brainstorming/mind-mapping.  I love how everyone can see who is writing/contributing.

Quizzes/Surveys – I mainly use this to produce surveys, which I use for my students to evaluate the content of every module, evaluate/reflect on their own performance, and a final reflection/survey for the class/semester as a whole.  I love using this as data analysis along with Canvas’ Learning Analytics on how to improve my class and makes it a lot easier to give my students individualized attention and feedback. I can also migrate it to MS EXCEL to further filter data or present it in different ways. Here is an informative link on using Canvas Analytics: https://community.canvaslms.com/videos/3910-using-canvas-learning-analytics-to-improve-online-learning

Speedgrader: I love Speedgrader.  What I want to talk about thought is annotating/feedback student’s assignments/essays.  I used to provide feedback the old-fashioned way, with a (red) pen on their hard copies.  However, I grew burdened with the amounts of papers I’d have to lug around all the time and the fact that my handwriting is nearly illegible (I call it chinese hieroglyphics).  However, I found it easier in the way I can see a paper as a whole and faster than say providing feedback on Turnitin.com. I do like the Turnitin integration with Canvas, but I primarily use it just to check plagiarism.  I do want to mess around more with the PeerMark feature for online workshopping.

Although Canvas’ annotation/feedback tools aren’t perfect, it does make handwriting feedback almost obsolete and I find it way more intuitive than turnitin.  There are some bugs with it, so I’m still not completely sold. I’m very excited to start exploring annotating using a smart pen However, in my research only IPAD users were able to do it seamlessly with Canvas.  I found it ironic that IPAD supports Canvas, but Canvas doesn’t read .pages yet. I heard very recently that MS Surface Pro has made improvements in its surface pen’s integration with Canvas, but I haven’t heard any recent updates regarding how seamless it is now.  For both capabilities, it takes a lot of $$$$ to own an IPAD or Surface Pro, but I think that it may be worth the investment to be able to grade and mark up my student’s essays that way.

However, the tools that Curry provided in the annotated bibliography are making me explore other ways to annotate my students’ papers.

NameCoach/Attendance – I am horrible with remembering/memorizing names and putting it to faces.  I use the attendance tool, both list and seating chart, name coach, google sheets, creating their own account/bio on Canvas, and daily attendance questions to help me remember and how to address them by their preferred nick name or gender pronoun.  

  • One tool/assignment I do want to incorporate with their account/personal bio and maybe an ice breaker or an extension of an ice breaker activity is Padlet, Pixar Story Spine, and Adobe Spark to create their own digital stories/bios.  

Some tools I want to learn and implement:

  • Screencast: One tool that this course uses and that Curry recommended on giving essay/assignment feedback.
  • Canvas ARC: I use videos in-class, but not my online classes; this would be a great tool to start incorporating lessons and assignments on videos.
  • Flipgrid- Again, another video tool that can do a variety of things.
  • Kahoot- I’m all about trying to make my online class more into an interactive video game, so I think this platform helps do that.
  • Poll Everywhere: This survey tool can be used in the classroom or online and can be embedded with powerpoints or google slides, etc..  I plan to use this alongside quizzes/surveys and the analytics/reflections/evaluations of my classroom.
  • Adobe Spark: I want to get more mastery behind this tool, specifically for student portfolio applications.  
  • Prezi – I’m a little embarrassed to say that most of my presentations are still in powerpoint.  I’ve migrated a few into Prezi, but definitely still a neanderthal in this regard. I’m hoping to use more prezi for instruction, but also navigational or orientation purposes (like Curry’s example).
  • Microsoft sway

****One thing that I’m not sure if there is a tool or app yet for it, but I would love to be able to create lectures using animation and an avatar.  Like I said in my previous post, I cringe when I record my lectures and think it would be fun to record my lectures, but turn them into an anime form and an avatar.  


2 Important Takeaways from Chapter 3 of Teaching Writing Online: 

  1. The importance of having a backup plan (or several back up plans)
  2. Virtual Worlds – Second life – I have never heard of this and plan on exploring it further


This post is busting at the seams
This post is busting at the seams avatar

This week was like a buffet. There was so much food (technology) I wanted to try, BUT I had to constantly remind myself not to fill up too quickly by trying everything. Otherwise, I would become too full too fast, miserable, and walk away swearing to never go to a buffet again. That being said…I might have eaten a bit too much, but I left heartily satisfied.

I should say I like Canvas and I do not plan to use something else (like notebowl, which looked really cool, or my own website). For me, I see a value in teaching my student demographic how to navigate Canvas and here’s why; just two weeks ago a graduate from our program came back to visit and said her graphic design instructor on the main campus has his own website and requires the students to use it, and two other tools like blogs, instead of Canvas. Apparently most of the class dislikes this arrangement. When I asked why they felt this way, she said most of them were still struggling to find everything in Canvas for all of their other classes, so learning three new websites/systems for his one class was overwhelming and it was too easy to miss an assignment. I’m not against instructors doing this. I don’t think an LMS works for every instructor or every class and students should be challenged to learn other and different things. For myself, though, I work with students who often are returning to school from a long educational gap and who also, typically, have very limited computer skills. Providing them with a working knowledge of Canvas, the most widely used system for the school, will help those students to be more successful in our program and beyond, should they choose to transition to credit.

The tool I explored was Arc. Let me tell you about it before I explain how it connects to my pedagogical philosophy. It’s a fairly new tool in Canvas, and when I learned about it during FLEX week, I was really excited to use it. Arc allows both instructors and students to record video within Canvas. The video can be from the webcam or it can be a screencast. An outside program, like screen-cast-o-matic, is not required. The videos can be closed captioned as well (yay accessibility!). There are two things I especially like about Arc. First, instructors and students can comment on specific parts of a video — imagine at the 1.13 mark there is a key point most students miss, an instructor can comment on that moment and call attention to its importance and then students can reply! Second, there are built-analytics that allow instructors to “quickly and easily analyze the media students are viewing, how long they are viewing, and when they stop viewing” (What is arc?). I could imagine this being very helpful if I had recorded a lesson and wanted to ensure my students were actually finishing it. While YouTube has similar analytics, you cannot see results for individual viewers, but in Arc you can see this information per student. While all of this feels a bit Big Brother, what else would we expect from an LMS? Data, data, data. I am still thinking a lot about how and when I might deploy Arc…which gets to my pedagogical philosophy. Wornock and many others talk extensively about an instructor’s online presence. Based on my student evaluations and numerous emails from my former online students, one of my strengths teaching in an online environment is making the class feel like a community rather than a disconnected experience they had been warned about! One way I did this was to post YouTube videos pretty regularly, participate regularly in the online discussions, and email people individually to check in an say hello. Arc intrigues me because it is a tool that allows the students to dialogue back and forth on those same videos AND record their own and post them. Now I haven’t used it much yet, but all of this sure sounds like an incredible way to build online community, develop/re-enforce your online presence, and get to know your students in more authentic ways!!

This post is already insanely long, so I will just finish by giving three shout outs…

  1. I loved the emphasis this week — remember your pedagogy first. Then use the technology to deliver it. I feel invigorated!
  2. The charts on. p. 20-21 were golden! I made xerox copies and pinned them to my wall! This chapter was a good reminder for anyone considering teaching online to think about the WHY before the WHAT.
  3. Bioshock is amazing. I miss it. I also highly recommend the soundtrack (see YouTube).

Principles of Teaching Online Composition
Principles of Teaching Online Composition avatar

Hi everyone, 

Sorry I’m a bit late to this.  There was an administrative/technological issue and my own procrastination. 

Here are some key elements for an online course that I think are important: 

  1. Clear and organized navigation and design – Personally, I think this is important because through taking online classes as a student to teaching online as an instructor, I’ve seen so many variations of how a course is designed and organized, from horribly simple and confusing, to remarkably artistic. I always believe you should design your course for the lowest common denominator of student, the ones that have never used a computer or the internet.  After keeping it clear and simple, you can then add elements to it for the more technologically savvy and design oriented students. 
  2. Accessibility: This kind of overlaps with the previous element.  I only mention this one because I had no clue about accessibility and 508 standards when I first started getting Distance Ed certified.  There are some simple things to accessibility that your pdf/adobe software will help you with, but some things can get more complex and tricky as there are A LOT of things within content to course design that need to be 508 compliant. 
  3. Support, Scaffolding, and Feedback: Often times, students think online classes are easier, but as we all know, online classes, especially writing/English ones, can be that much harder.  I don’t necessarily want to make my support and scaffolding easier for them compared to a physical classroom, like spoon feeding them, but I do want to give them that extra support, more stream-lined and connective scaffolding, while still challenging them.  Feedback is of course always essential, and even more so in an online environment.  This means constant and continual feedback and being on top of that.  This is something that I sometimes have difficulty with and drop the ball at times because online classes can easily be forgotten or put on the back burner.  Nuances to feedback is also important to keep in mind.  Since my students don’t have those visual cues, I have to be mindful of creating a more positive tone to my feedback, so that they don’t feel I’m attacking them or being overly serious.  Using different kinds of feedback can help in this regard.  Besides the typical written feedback, I often utilize the audio feedback option as well.  
  4. Using different tools and content: I think it is important to utilize the different mediums to learn besides just a textbook.  This includes blogs, youtube, ted talk links, and as much supplemental instruction as possible.  This is something that I personally would like to improve upon.  I feel weird on camera, so I need to do a better job at posting videos and implementing more personalized touches.  I also such at graphic design, and I need to work on making things more aesthetically interesting.  It would be really cool to have my course as a video game quest one day…
  5. From the book: Some things that I annotated or found helpful so far from the book is the difference between a different approach vs. a progressive approach in the way we translate classroom to online.  I thought it was interesting when he talked about the preference for online composition in “textualizing the class” and that discussion now becomes “writing to interact with others.” Some of the things that I found interesting to be present to is the concept of “hivemind” and the idea that we should be mindful of those “periodic moments of malaise during which (we) suspect that everything (we) are doing is wrong…” Lastly, I really love the idea of being exposed and vulnerable and the idea of the “real” voice may be completely different from the voice we use in a physical classroom than the voice we use online.  This made me think of being a different avatar in different settings vs trying to be my most authentic self everywhere. 

I apologize for not using screencast like most of you. I used youtube instead for my little Canvas overview vid. https://youtu.be/2tMdgqpytD8