I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as part of this class and I feel I am walking away from it with a much higher level of confidence surrounding the broad wide world of Web 2.0. I feel I have a greater understanding of the potentialities of Web 2.0 to enhance learning and instruction and I’m excited to have learned how to utilize a number of tools that I’m already incorporating into my teaching and learning. A synopsis of the best tools I’ve found and used this semester can be found here at this blog post I wrote earlier in the semester.

I am also really glad to be taking this course on the heels of the EC&I 831 course I took the previous semester with Alec Couros. In that class I was introduced to Web 2.0 and a variety of open education and social learning models but it was in this course that I was able to expand upon these initial forays and to really “dig my hands (and tools) into the sand.”

I’ve learned that online instruction can be a totally immersive way to learn, that learner to learner interactions can be terrifically beneficial to the process and that a great deal of depth can be experienced by learners and instructors alike. I’ve always been more of a loner type, honestly, even though I appear to most to be outgoing. Inside me is a more quiet and sometimes shy person that most people wouldn’t guess to live beneath the surface. I’ve come out of that shell to a large degree during these online classes and I’ve learned so very much from sharing with my peers and reading about their experiences, successes and challenges alike.

I will most definitely be keeping this blog going (though I won’t set “deadlines” for myself honestly… I want to enjoy this process and not have it be mandatory participation or anything) and I will visit other’s blogs too in order to keep the ties I’ve made flourishing. I’m playing around with ideas of how to incorporate more learner-learner interactions in the online courses I’m developing and delivering for my college. It’s a challenge though because the course delivery method doesn’t lend itself naturally to these sorts of interactions. The courses I teach are 100% asynchronously delivered and there is a continuous intake, so assigning students to groups won’t work. I’ve started with the inclusion of some Forum discussions in each course and requiring students to post their thoughts, opinions, etc. to them and then comment on 2 other points of view, regardless of whether or not that student is still registered in the class or not. Then I work as a moderator to try to keep the conversations flowing. It’s early yet to know if this is beneficial for students or not, but I’ll persist in it!

There are lots of other changes I’ve made to my course delivery this semester as well. For example, the inclusion of the orientation Moodle module will ease things quite a bit (see the blog post explaining this project here). Already I’ve had a number of students opt out of a personalized session and they’ve given me some positive comments about the orientation process. They like the fact that it’s available 24/7 if they have any questions and the inclusion of the Jing screen captures is handy as well.

I’m also excited because I’ve gained knowledge on how to pursue PD online as a result of this course. I don’t need to travel in order to learn new things or to network with other professionals in the field. This is a tremendous comfort to me, especially since I could be making an overseas change of address in the next couple of years. I love the just-in-time availability of professional development opportunities. With a simple search or a well-placed Twitter, I can have a host of PD opportunities pop up on my screen. I totally love that flexibility.

In short… I’ve learned so much and even now, after completing 5 years of course work toward my Master’s degree, I still feel as though I’m a newcomer into the sandbox in a lot of ways. I really love that there is so much to learn about all of the time. I am really grateful to have been given the opportunity to practice some online networking skills that will see me through all of the challenges and exciting possibilities that still lie ahead of me. Thank you, one and all for all of your support and know that you have mine in return 🙂

Talk to you all soon in the days, weeks, and (hopefully) years to come!

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Hey Everyone!

It’s not even a week since the last class in EC&I 831 and I’m already applying the things I’ve learned to my practice as an ABE instructor. A sure-fire sign indeed that Alec is doing something right!

As some of you may know, I teach exclusively online classes for an ABE program and one of the classes I’m teaching is Psychology 30. During the course, I have learners reflect on a number of controversial issues with more than one side to them. Traditionally I’ve had those learners complete the assignment in a journal response, one that only I would see and mark. I had always wanted to change the format of these assignments into something more collaborative and now that I’ve taken this class, I’ve also taken the plunge into having my learners participate in an online Forum discussion surrounding the various given issues. I teach completely asynchronously so all of my learners tend to be at different points in their program so I was concerned about achieving a continuity of discussion given that situation. I still don’t know for sure how it will all work out, but I’m winging it anyway and I’m sure I’ll learn and adjust things as I need to along the way!

I did think it a prudent idea to write up a set of expectations, both for the learners and for me, to refer to in order to help establish the expected norms. Here is what I composed and posted on the course site as a guide for learners to follow when participating in the online classroom Forums:

Forum Discussion Guidelines

In Units 2, 3 & 4 of this course, you will be involved in discussions with other people taking this course about different issues surrounding human development. Some of the people who have posted in these discussions may have finished the course by the time you get here and so any comments you make on the posts they have created may not be responded to by the original writer. Please do not get discouraged by this. I’ll be monitoring the discussions as well and offering alternative points of view to consider too.

There are two expectations with regard to these Forum discussions. You are expected to give your view on a given situation, making sure you are backing up that view with solid, well stated evidence from the course or outside reputable sources. This is where the bulk of your grade for the Forum discussions posts will come from.

In addition to composing your original post, you are also expected to read the work of other students enrolled in this class and to comment on their posts in a constructive, thoughtful and always respectful manner.

General Guidelines for Commenting on Posts:

  1. Tone of Voice: This is an academic class and not a casual goofing off sort of discussion or chat group you can find on the Internet. While humour is always appreciated, please keep it appropriate to a classroom context.
  2. Write in full sentences: While this isn’t an English class, the bulk of the communication you will do in this course is based on writing, so it is important for you to practice well developed writing skills. Any errors in grammar and sentence structure tend to erode overall meaning and this is something we want to avoid.
  3. Comment in a constructive, positive manner: Abuse of any other person in this class, either past or present will be dealt with severely. Respect the opinions and thoughts of other classmates at all times please.

I realize most of these guidelines are likely unnecessary for me to iterate here as everyone here is an adult, however I’d rather err on the side of caution and just be crystal clear as to what the expectations are.

Please contact your instructors for further explanation of expectations should you require any clarification of the points discussed in this document. Thank you!!

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I hope this will be useful for my learners as they work their way through the course. If you have any suggestions that I could include to improve upon what I have here, I’d be delighted to hear them 🙂 Thanks and talk to you again soon!