Dreams of tomorrow . . . today!
Dreams of tomorrow . . . today! avatar

Goodbye but not farewell:
Thank you all for being part of the Writing with Machines Fall 2018 certificate course, what a great mix of ideas and information we’ve covered in our time together! I am super charged up to interrogate my teaching practice and the choices I make both in my onsite classes and my future online courses—and I am inspired by the possibility of overlap and hybridity that is promised by so many of the materials we’ve worked with. But for my final entry I want to focus on the future- my vision for my ideal online course/

Clarity: As a new Canvas adherent, I am consistently coming up against questions and challenges as to how to best use the platform to communicate with my students in the clearest manner possible. I plan to migrate from modules to pages as the primary organizational framework- pages seems more manageable and systematic in communicating important weekly information that students will be able to navigate when prompted and required. Also, they will be able to navigate and revisit at their discretion, reinforcing their initial visit- I will work in some way of requiring them to interface with the weekly requirements more than one time only—weekly quizzes, short written responses, basically a series of recursive assignments that will facilitate consistent engagement with the class/ class materials as we build up to the longer written assignments.

This focus on clarity dovetails nicely with an increased focus on equity. One thing I want to focus on more in both my online and f2f classes is a de-emphasis on the sword of Damocles aspect of the larger paper/ essay and zero in more on the process and informal writing/ process work. In Warnock’s conception of a point system he attributes 35 points to Informal writing/ message boards whereas he gives 30 points to his three longer writing projects including a final writing portfolio. A focus on more informal/ low-stakes assignments will give students more opportunities to accumulate points and hopefully be able to demonstrate/ develop their strengths in a wider variety of writing contexts, thus providing a more equitable grading system that maintains standards.

Race-consciousness/ intersectionality: Dr. Wood’s ideas and approaches have been a source of inspiration and enlightenment since I took his “Teaching Men of Color” course two years ago. However, as many of my colleagues have suggested, let’s keep the conversation going—just as we focus on the importance of being race-conscious as we develop our curriculum and use of stock images (especially important in an online environment with such an emphasis on ocular engagement), we can also be aware and inclusive of all marginalized communities. Importantly, we can provide materials that are empowering and celebratory which invite participation and sharing of our varied experiences.

Fun/ flexibility/ risk-taking: Lastly, I want to challenge myself to have fun with the new challenges of teaching an online course. Flexibility will be important as I adopt new strategies and allow myself to take risks—to fail at times. For example, many of my colleagues have discussed/ mentioned gamification have sparked my interest/ fascination. But at the same time I have a certain amount of hesitancy and intimidation since I am so unfamiliar with what this might look like in practice. But in my ideal course, I will challenge myself to try the things that I am most nervous about with the hopes that they will best help my students make the most of the course.

Thanks curry and all my colleagues for a lively session of contemplation and collaboration -it’s been useful, inspiring, and challenging- looking forward to the next sequence.

Links to my previous posts:




A Lifelong Dream
A Lifelong Dream avatar

Hi, everyone! I can’t believe we are coming to the end of our online certificate program. Thank you all so much for the amazing learning experience. I have learned so much from each of you.

So, I’m going to try to keep this to the one paragraph curry asked. I think I answered a lot of these questions in my video posting of last week when I gave the overview of my English 100 online course I am developing and previewed the structure/organization, tools used, and weekly/unit plans. So here I want to focus a bit more on the experience I am hoping for students as they make their way through my course. I have shared that the theme of my course is going to revolve around living a meaningful or purposeful life. I want the readings, activities, and writing tasks to be inspiring to them as individuals. I will not go in with a “this is what it means to live a purposeful life” as what is meaningful to me might be quite different to another. The goal here is to get students thinking about their life, the advice they receive, observe, and/or give, and the rethinking or reimagining what their life could mean. I am still considering one anchor text, and I am leaning toward The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom written by psychologist Jonathan Haidt. It is not a “self help” book but instead looks at ten different life lessons and views them through scientific and historical lenses. Basically it would serve as a model of the analytical writing that is the focus of the course. I would supplement this text with shorter readings, TedTalks, artforms, etc., that would get students thinking critically about the ideas, making connections to their own lives and observations, and ultimately be thinking about designing their best life, whatever that is. If you have any great texts that you already use or have used that would support this theme, PLEASE SHARE! So through this work, students will build their skills as analytical readers, writers, and thinkers. My dream is that they come to understand and appreciate the power of analytical writing in their life, not just for academic purposes, but beyond. Finally, I want them to become confident in their skillset and take the lessons they learn from the class far beyond my classroom. That would be my dream course.

Links to Prior Postings



Equity/Accessibility/Universal Design

Course Design

My Dream Course
My Dream Course avatar

My dream online ENG 100 course would be organized in Canvas using the pages feature in a week-by-week structure. I would either make each week’s main page available one at a time, or I would make the current week’s page the home page. I like the idea presented in our discussion that suggested using the same icons consistently to help students easily identify the type of materials (discussions, assignments…), so I would incorporate these on my pages. The weekly content would also be consistent in its approach; that is, the week would start with a short video lecture establishing that week’s goals. It would then be followed by a reading assignment, a short quiz, and an initial post to a discussion, which would all carry a Wednesday evening deadline.  By Sunday evening, the students would need to respond the required number of times to the discussion and submit the week’s writing assignment (or revision of a writing assignment or peer review if that was the assignment).  Exceptions to this scheme would be for the incorporation of group assignments that might necessarily work differently. The only new tools I would need are ScreencastOmatic to create the video lectures and Zoom to enable a synchronous discussion or for use with a group project. I would hope that the students would experience this linear structure as easy to use and clear to navigate, helping them successfully complete ENG 100.

Unit 5: My technology enhanced F2F English 100: Education, Identity, Academic Success
Unit 5: My technology enhanced F2F English 100: Education, Identity, Academic Success avatar

Hi Everyone,

First of all, thank you all for a wonderful learning experience in this sequence. Participating has invigorated my teaching and made me super excited to try out the ideas, tools, methods, we’ve discussed. It was a real pleasure:)

I am using this week’s post to think about how I can apply some of the knowledge we have assembled in this discussion to my English 100 f2f course this Spring.  My idea is to use what I have learned with you to create a technology enhanced English 100 Education, Identity, Academic Success course. I see this course as a gateway to my online English 100 course: a course where the infrastructure is set towards an online course and I am trying out the online tools we’ve discussed in this sequence.

Some of the tools I am already using or would like to try include: Google drive, folders, google docs, google calendar, Canvas discussion, Canvas collaborations, Canvas calendar, Canvas messaging via grade book, Camtasia, and using Sceencast o matic to give students line by line feedback on their essays

Before the course begins I will introduce myself, the work of the course, our routine, and the time needed to succeed using a 10-15 min. video. During week one, I will guide students through a time management workshop where we will use google calendar to review their current weekly schedule (their already set time commitments) and schedule in the work for our class. This serves as a reality check for students to make a decision to commit to this class (or not). During week one students will use the images on their social media to create a story of who they are and use this to introduce themselves to the class.

At noon on Friday students receive an announcement about the work we will be doing that week. The announcement may include a video of me going over the schedule/work for the week. The announcement guides students to our home page where they take a quick quiz then proceed to the work for the week. As mentioned in my discussion post for Unit 4, students have about 4 weekly tasks that are predictable, that allow for scaffolding and innovation, and that are recursive in nature. These tasks will include:

1.Watch video and multimedia lectures: these include pre-reading activities, lectures where I will introduce readings using videos, images, and other activities aimed at activating student’s funds of knowledge

2.Mini and informal assignments: these can include metacognitive reflection, work on the specific writing project we are working on or can be about the academic success theme in the course (Warnock 145 ).

3. Reading: Weekly readings: reading one of the readings clustered around a major writing project (20 pages), readings about one of our key concepts (1 page), readings on the writing process, metacognition, some readings about affective issues and how to succeed in college (less than 10 pages).

Here is an example of a video  I might use

3. Writing: Students write a 1-2 page response to the major readings assignment. These reading responses are reading assignments where the instructor introduces discussion topics or questions for a second reading. These integrated reading and writing assignments ask students to respond to the questions the instructor posed and pose a question or discussion topic of their own. Students use google docs to complete their reading responses and then post their responses on Canvas and on a discussion board by Wed at 11: 59 p.m. These reading assignment are their Primary Posts, they will also complete a Secondary Post (from Warnock’s Chapter 13 and Sample Weekly Plan in Appendix B).

4. Discussion/ work with the readings: Students are also required to respond to one reading response by Friday 11: 59 p.m. These are their Secondary Posts. Their responses are one substantive paragraph. These are graded. The instructor monitors the online discussion taking place between Wednesday and Friday along with one student who is assigned the role of moderator. At the end of the discussion the moderator uses video to comment on the discussion and provide a summary of the work students did as a whole. The instructor works with the moderator to create that video. Students are asked to view that video at the beginning of the next week.

One more thing: this is a zero textbook cost course; all readings are posted online as universally accessible PDF files.

Here are my posts:

 At The Intersection of Using Technology to Teach New Media

Got Equity?

Course Design and Organization Video

My Technology Enhanced English 100: Education, Identity, Academic Success



Crafting a Dream Class

Hey gang,

I’m gonna think about my dream OWcourse, which is currently just a translation of my current f2f one. My course examines popular and scholarly essays about children’s literature, toys, cartoons, and games to teach students how to critically analyze cultural artifacts using class readings and their own experiences. My thinking is to take seemingly transparent or superficial objects and dive deeply into them, empowering students to repeat this process on their own. As I think about this course in an online format, I envision four guiding principles: be redundant, be collaborative, be intersectional, and be responsive.

  • Be Redundant: I want to bombard students with the syllabus, while also structuring the class through reiterative, weekly assignments that build into essays (I also talk about it here). Taking a cue from many of my esteemed peers, I want to send out a weekly schedule on Sunday morning that would provide a list of what to read, what to do, and when to do it. When students access the Canvas site, they will be shown the same information (which they’ll also find on their syllabus, in the “To Do” column, and in the calendar). Each week, students will be asked to write short response papers to that week’s reading and to comment on two of their peers. These short writing assignments will help students brainstorm potential ideas for their essays, while also enabling me to intervene at multiple points to help them with their writing.
  • Be Collaborative: One project will require students to work in groups to create a website (like a WordPress of maybe a Wiki), and I want to use Canvas and Zoom to help students work asynchronously and synchronously to think through collaborative writing and work habits. I want students to explore the possibilities (and limitations) of collaborative, multimodal projects such as designing class-curated webpages, wikis, course blogs, and other forms of “public writing” that require students to think about and write for a wide range of audiences. Moreover, I want to encourage students to work together to improve their own writing through intensive, recursive peer review. To tie back to point (1), I want collaboration to become a redundant part of my class.
  • Be Intersectional: This principle applies more immediately to me in my course design. As Dr. Woods encourages, my courses need to be explicitly and critically conscious of representation in order to ensure that my students are being exposed to a variety of viewpoints, particularly from marginalized populations. This begins at the bottom with course readings and examples that guarantee that I incorporate positive, empowering representations of different groups. Moreover, that I turn these selections into moments to dwell on intersectionality and to use our own lived experiences as lenses through which to interpret cultural objects (like this one that I just bought to teach next semester).
  • Be Responsive: Finally, I want to continue to explore the best practices of responding to my students. In addition to developing reiterative writing assignments, I want to establish grading practices that best reach students and help them to succeed. In my f2f course, I’ve started experimenting with Screencast-O-Matic and have received pretty positive reviews from students thus far. My feedback on their most recent essays was more in-depth and personalized, and, while I feel weird that I have little written trace of it, I think this approach has benefited students. On more accurately, I’ll see if it benefits students when they turn in their final two essays. But if not, back to the drawing board! In short, I want to find ways that reach students and ensure that they aren’t being left behind.


In the end, these online platforms have really expanded how we can teach writing and reading at the college level, and I’m excited to continue exploring the possibilities next semester!

For the sake of redundancy… Also because literally almost everything I’m currently watching is about witches. I should just make my class about witches. haha

Color My (Online) World, Make Me Smile

The coolest aspect of this semester’s sequence for me is that it’s got me rethinking everything I’ve ever considered regarding online course design. Teaching mostly pre-transfer classes has the benefit and consequence of forcing me to slow down; a lot of concepts academics take for granted I’ve had to open up, explore, and by deconstructing, reconstruct with my students. The intention is that building these concrete foundations will bolster them when they’re later presented with the sophisticated prompts 100 and 201/202 administer; my goal is for them to meet these at times abstruse assignments with conviction and confidence. As a result, my focus in the past has been to alleviate any confusion by going slowly and presenting linearly.

Now, however, I’ve rethought what I’d like to do. I’m revved, jazzed, and ready to try out new ideas! Without further ado, here are the various aspects of my dream course:

Colors, images, videos, sound bytes—bring on all the creativity! I want my course to be fun. When a student logs in, I want their face to light up with joy as a small child’s does on Christmas morning! Alright, perhaps that would be too much to hope for regarding an OWCourse, but a girl can dream. As a gamer, I love beautiful, immersive video games that transport me into their worlds. Cutscenes, interesting tutorials, and opening quests all help me to understand the new environment I’m entering into—more on the video game aspect later. I’d like to create an immersive online environment for my students, and this means incorporating videos, background sound clips and music, different background colors on each page, and different images reflecting the topics. Using multimedia to create diverse, dynamic, and fun assignments, pages, and links is my goal here; they’ll see recordings of me speaking and presenting, but also recordings from movies, music videos, the local community, recorded presentations, and perhaps even themselves! I love the dramatic, so I’d like to make my video recordings where I explain what they’re doing for an assignment or sequence themed—perhaps I’ll dress as a Greek philosopher in one, a Gaulish chieftain in another, etc. Yes, this would be silly, but that’s the point. (For more info on why I’m so focused on fun/silly teaching, please read “The Neuroscience of Joyful Education” which can be found here.) Small movie clips, AV meetings with each student individually and in small groups, lots of fun and colorful images, sound effects, and music will all bring my OWcourse to life to create a lively and captivating learning environment.

Dynamic and changing—allow my students to co-create the course as we go! I really admire that many of you spoke to the idea of giving students as much agency as possible. This also harkens back to our fantastic discussion on equity. My online course would hold four “feedback forums” where we meet synchronously as a class via a text and voice chatroom. Perhaps Zoom, even, although I’m hesitant to use video chats for large groups. Regardless, my students would provide me with ideas on what they’d like to do during the next unit and suggest lessons, concepts, and exercises. I’m no Finkel or Faigley (those well-esteemed expressivists!), so the class cannot be purely “Design Your Own Course” for each student—there will inevitably be competing ideas—but I’d like to allow them to have a certain amount of say in what we do. I suppose these forums can be seen as diplomatic negotiations. At the very beginning of the course, I’d like to have one major forum where we discuss all the concepts they’ve ever wanted to learn from an English course; from here, I’d try to fit them into the rest of what we do. Empower all the students!

Multiple access points and multiple pathways! This is one of my biggest “rethink” moments of this sequence. I think my reliance on linear models is due to my fear of losing students, but I’d like to challenge that assumption and try out a more dimensional online course design. Therefore, my course would contain a multitude of different ways for students to access content, and the sequences themselves will give my students the ability to choose their own order of completion. I’ll be honest, this idea scares me a bit—I’m so entrenched in scaffolding that this suggestion goes against the very nature of what I perceive teaching composition to be. But nothing ventured nothing gained!

Always a face, never an IP! Curry mentioned a word for my eCafés that I like: piazza-style. I love this, thank you! I want to hold small group and class-wide piazza discussions. These would include my twice-a-week three-hour-long eCafés where students can log into a chat room with me and ask any questions they might have. But I’d like to hold Zoom meetings with small groups—during collaborative projects and just to foster peer and student-to-teacher rapport—as well as a multitude of “roll question discussion posts”. The Zoom meetings would be places for students to discuss work with each other and collaborate on group projects. The Roll Question Discussion Posts would be once-a-week “fun” posts with silly questions for them to respond to—check-in check-out points. The goal is to create familiarity, understanding, affinity, and acquaintance. I want my students to without a doubt know that I care about each of them individually and that I know who they are. I want them to also know who I am. Additionally, I would like them to really get to know each other, and for them to form and build friendships with their fellow classmates.

Gamification—more exploration, more open-minds! Bentley, you ought to either do a professional development session on this or teach a whole course—your ideas on incorporating games are awesome! Anyway, kudos aside, I agree with Mary Poppins: “in every job that must be done, there is an element of fun—you find the fun, and snap! The job’s a game!” If I can make my OWcourse fun and incorporate games, my students might not only learn better, but look forward to learning—the holy grail of teaching concepts. I’d like to incorporate something like Ready Player One: an MMO-style class setting where students log in, build their own avatars, and complete class “quests” for experience and rewards. These quests would be three-dimensional fun exercises that explore the readings, build their papers, etc. Just like an MMO, with more experience, the more they level up. The more they level up and the more gold they get for completing quests, the cooler the gear/clothes/etc. they are able to procure. There’s a reason video games are so often addictive! Perhaps we could even incorporate area-style PvP matches with rhetorical devices and cool-moves papers and readings make! All of these fun elements I want to replicate; my aim would be to use that same level-up process in my OWcourse.

…So, these five points don’t begin to cover everything I plan on incorporating, but they’re some of the imagings I’ve had. This is a very grandiose dream, but I would absolutely love to incorporate as much of it as possible. At the end of the day, while I want my students to receive clear feedback, foster collaboration, ensure equity on all levels, and have a reliable course design, I’d also dearly love to make them smile.

Thank you to all of you for a fantastic sequence! I’ve gained so much from your insights, ideas, and feedback, and look forward to trying out these many suggestions in future OWcourses!

Thank you to Curry and Jim for your wonderful leadership, skill-sharing, and administration! I’m so grateful to have been a part of this experience, and I hope we can have even more teaching-online discussions in the future!

My posts:
Channeling Pink Floyd (Feedback and Assessment)
Channeling The Beatles (Collaboration and Group Work)
Channeling YES (Equity, Accessibility, and Universal Design)
Channeling Elton John (Course Design and Organization)
And this one, channeling Chicago (Dream course)