Active learning yields knowledge in action

The Chronicle has a nice article reflecting on the deluge of data we’re awash in every day. Specifically, it draws attention to the failure of colleges to adequately prepare graduates for effectively working in and with this data in critical, in-depth ways:

Many employers said their fresh-from-college hires frequently lack deeper and more traditional skills in research and analysis. Instead, the new workers default to quick answers plucked from the Internet. That method might be fine for looking up a definition or updating a fact, but for many tasks, it proved superficial and incomplete.
It turns out that students are poorly trained in college to effectively navigate the Internet’s indiscriminate glut of information.
It goes on to describe what we (employers and a conscientious, civil society) look for, what we need:
While students will always need to think critically and ask the right questions, emerging in this new world is the need for a skill set we call “knowledge in action,” a kind of athletics of the mind aided by Internet-enabled devices, search engines, and pools of data from a wide variety of outlets.
I propose that this knowledge-in-action is a hallmark of a Liberal Arts education. There are several points in Cronon’s “Only Connect” essay that tie into this. “How does one recognize liberally educated people?”
  • They listen and they hear.
  • They read and they understand.
  • They can solve a wide variety of puzzles and problems.
  • They respect rigor not so much for its own sake but as a way of seeking truth.
  • They practice humility, tolerance, and self-criticism.
  • They understand how to get things done in the world.

I see our inter-disciplinary course connections and our theory-into-practice programs as good examples of directly fostering this characteristic, actually prompting students to look substantially at a subject from alternate perspectives and to question perceptions.

And I think it has a lot to do with active learning. The more students are encouraged to bring to the educational experience, the more invested they are in its outcomes, the more likely they are to develop such sophisticated yet essential skills. It’s like dynamic learning leads to dynamic living and working.
I’m also reminded of the saying that 21st century literacy is the ability to learn, unlearn, and relearn.
By Rick Doble (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Rick Doble (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Learning about education from liqueur

This commercial from UK company, Arthur Bell & Sons Ltd, is making the rounds among educators. It was shown at a keynote during last week’s CLAC conference. As Carissa Peck points out in her blog post, there are many things to take away from this ad. Enjoy!

When I showed it to my family–who all liked it–I pointed out that if you cut the last 5 seconds or so from the clip, you wouldn’t know it had anything to do with alcohol.

UPDATE: the video has been made Private.

Creative collaboration spaces at my alma mater

The Methodist Theological School in Ohio has embraced educational technology. Using Sakai, all of their courses are now hybrid, offering some amount of content and interaction online. Plus, several of their teaching spaces are now rigged for collaboration. Here are pics from Gault Hall Room 150. When I was a student there (2007 grad) this classroom was simply rows of two-seater desks for students and a smart podium for the instructor, (and the podium then, with its Extron control system, was notoriously flaky.)

It’s obvious they’re going for guide on the side, facilitator pedagogy, rather than sage on the stage, lecturer style, and it’s nice to see. Many of my classes when I was a student there were discussion-based, and we did plenty of group projects.

My CLAC Lightning Presentation

Yesterday I gave my lightning presentation (limited to 10 minutes) at the 2014 CLAC conference at Denison. My topic was “Are Tech Trends Driving Better Education?” My Prezi is available here. I used PollEverywhere to ask a single question, “How do you see technology influencing education at your college?” Below are the responses in word cloud (click through for large view) and list formats. I forgot to mention that the question of technology is shifting from how to use it as a means of delivery to how to use it to enhance education.  😕

expectations of incoming students Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
More and more outside-of-the-classroom expectations Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Blended learning is pretty promising… Best of both worlds Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
enables more integrated learning – more applied learning. students are now using real world data and sources for their statistical learning Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
anytime, access to anything from anywhere Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Big impact if we nurture and support it Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Students are pushing the envelop as much as faculty Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
More hybrid classroom models Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Expanding the dialogue of what’s possible in the curriculum Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Encouraging us to think in terms of backwards design. Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
Allowing students to be builders… Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
hands-on, engage, transferable skills, more faculty-student and student-student collaboration Web June 18, 2014, 03:28 PM
It’s helping faculty develop more active assignments and students become more participatory and active learners. Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Research tools for students Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Assessment of quantitative skills Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Adding cost to the curriculum Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Meeting needs in a competitive environment Text (US) June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Access to new information that use to be beyond reach due to time or distance. Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Focusing clasrrom interaction on active learning Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
It’s changed everything – administrative functions, pedagogy, student expectations of response time, what happens in the classroom, library, and other spaces. Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Students expect it since they have experienced it before Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
improving relationships through better information sharing Text (US) June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
A continuing refinement of the blend between in-person and online delivery/content/activities. Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Digital media providing nuance to the institutional mission of creating excellent communicators. Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Redesigned teaching spaces Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
A dichotomy forming between “old” and “new” styles of teaching Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Ongoing and incremental Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Increasing access to people, resources, global conversations… Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Offering greater differentiation (learning styles) Text (US) June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
Digital natives expect mobile tech all the time and constantly updated Web June 18, 2014, 03:29 PM
improving relationships through better information sharing Text (US) June 18, 2014, 03:30 PM
Allow alumni to access course conten they couldn’t access otherwise. Web June 18, 2014, 03:32 PM

 

Add-on tools to make Google Apps for Education even better

I just learned of a few tools, thanks to Ryan Gjerde and Jedidiah Rex, to make Google Apps easier for teachers to use for online assignments and grading.

Doctopus (document + octopus) essentially acts like a giant photocopier which can send files out to individual students, project groups or the whole class.

Goobric allows for rubric-based grading of Google Drive resources (Documents, Presentations, Spreadsheets, Folders, etc.) created via the Doctopus Script. Luther College has experimented with these.

And then there’s Flubaroo (where do they come up with these names?) that offers similar features: quickly grade online assignments, get reporting and analysis on student performance, and email students their scores, all within Google Apps.

 

No administrator involvement is needed to start using these tools. Simply follow the instructions, adding them via the Add-ons menu in a Drive document. However, we’d like to know how it goes. Please share your experience with us, either via the comments below or direct communication. Thanks.

More digital scholarship at OWU

NITLE has just published a nice article on using digital scholarship in the tenure and promotion process. It’s certainly worth a look and some reflection if you’re on the Faculty Personnel Committee, one of the Academic Affairs staff, or on the Celebration of Scholarship planning team. We could use more digital scholarship here at Ohio Wesleyan, and the recent Mellon grant has encouraged it.

Photo CC-By Alan Levine
Photo by Alan Levine

Final BlendKit 2014 reading response

Chapter 5 nicely wraps up the BlendKit 2014 course with a discussion of quality assurance in blended learning. This one was particularly relevant because it talked about the institutional motivations and standards for online and blended learning, as well as evaluating teaching effectiveness. Here at OWU I am the primary advocate for blended learning and for teaching how and why to do it. I’ve also proposed for some time that effective use of technology (whether online like Blackboard or in the classroom like projectors) be incorporated into the peer review process, which has had a long standing here despite modest participation. Such campaign-like activity has slowly but surely gained traction, partly through attrition and the hiring of new, younger faculty.

“How will you know whether your teaching of the course was effective once it has concluded?” This is a fascinating question because students are active learners, and I feel it’s just as valid to ask, “How will you know if your students succeeded despite poor quality teaching?” I could stand to learn more about assessment of educational programs, models, and techniques, and this week’s reading was helpful in this regard.

One recommendation that was repeated a few times was to speak to a trusted colleague or two to discuss effective teaching of blended learning courses. Building on that, research has shown that “high quality faculty development is the cornerstone of effective blended programs” and “meaningful dialogue with other faculty about the teaching/learning process is the most effective form of faculty development.” I’m sure I wasn’t alone in being disappointed when the position of Faculty Development Coordinator was not refilled here a couple years ago. A lot of what I do is faculty development. We are a learning community.

The reading stressed that existing course standards and course review forms are likely going to be an awkward fit for blended learning courses. Taking last week’s lesson into account, how indeed do we measure the effectiveness of the integration, the blended relationship between online and face-to-face modalities? It seems that qualitative, descriptive, stories must be used. Our instructor, Kelvin Thompson, wrote his dissertation on the topic.

I question the wisdom of holding up innovation as something excellent in and of itself. Perhaps it’s the Persig fan in me (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance turned 40 years old last month) that’s quibbling, but innovation–like technology–should be a means to an end and not an end in itself. There have been many, many innovative ideas in the past that have fallen by the wayside because they weren’t as effective as something else. In other words, we don’t innovate just for the sake of innovation (or use technology just for the sake of technology,) we innovate to be better teachers and to help our students be better learners.

And, finally, I noted that online learning has been around for at least two decades. In other words, it’s fairly well established, with its own standards and assessments. There were many good tools linked in the reading to help understand that.

Honda Dream CB450
Rikita, Wikimedia Commons

BlendKit Reading response for Week 4

This week’s topic is blended content and assignments, another good reading. I liked the emphasis on integrating the online and face-to-face components of the course to make one, seamless experience for the students. There was a helpful discussion of learning activities with and without technology. I’d say the many apps and sites and services under the heading of Technique (How) only scratched the surface of what’s out there. In fact, Fargo.io, an outliner site/service, was mentioned on NPR on Monday.

BlendKit Course Badge

In other, synchronicitous news, there was an article in Science Magazine reporting that lectures aren’t just boring–they’re ineffective. Active learning trumps passive learning any day. The more the brain is engaged in the process the better it learns.

And it was good timing that I also attended a Blackboard webinar on badges today. Lots of ways to make learning more engaging and active and rewarding! I’ve actually earned 12 badges so far in this MOOC, and one of them is displayed above. Badges may now be awarded in Blackboard too, and our OWU Blackboard is currently getting an upgrade to Service Pack 14 (all the way from SP 6!) Come fall, I’ll be doing a lot more to promote the use of Blackboard features to make courses more blended and more engaging.

Are Liberal Arts colleges insulated from current higher ed trends?

I attended a webinar on the new Blackboard Store today and found that it’s not what I expected–yet another app store–but an online bookstore with other course materials available. These materials would be exclusively for the courses the student is enrolled in. This makes sense as the next logical progression from Blackboard’s publisher integrations. It also appears they’re trying to cut Ginkgotree out by developing a similar platform native to Bb.

online-presentation

What gave me pause for reflection was the current trends the rep from MBS Direct (Bb’s store development partner) cited as the context for the launch of the store. It’s all stuff I’ve been hearing a lot of over the last few years:

  • Whole industries are shifting from a single, persistent source for information (or a very few) to multiple channels and multiple modalities, indeed whole new environments. He spoke of a single rock radio station per town in the 1970’s to multiple radio stations, satellite radio, digital downloads, Spotify, Pandora, internet radio, and more. We’re all familiar with these trends in music, movies, and news.

  • In higher education we have growing adjunct and part-time faculty contingents, and shrinking percentages of tenure-track faculty.

  • At the same time there are shrinking percentages of traditional students, with growing percentages of non-traditional students. So the most common type of student nowadays is one who is also working and/or raising a family while attending college.

I got to thinking how different it is at small, residential Liberal Arts colleges than at big state schools and community colleges, what to speak of for-profit, online schools. Here at OWU we still use tenure-track faculty primarily. Our students are predominantly 18-22, and the vast majority of them live and work (if they hold a job at all) on campus. We pride ourselves on having small class sizes in which students and teachers can really get to know one another.

And yet, are our students likewise insulated from these big trends affecting the rest of higher education? I doubt it. Do they increasingly prefer digital over print? Are they increasingly finding multiple sources for study help, for research materials, etc. outside of the campus library, beyond the library’s website? Are more and more of them getting their textbooks and course materials somewhere other than the campus Bookstore? And are they bringing mobile technology with them and accessing course materials, official college email, etc. on these devices? Remember, they are young millennials.

Our teaching and assessing practices need to adapt not so much to the trends in the rest of higher ed, but they should definitely adapt to the changing learning and study habits of our students, who are digital natives.

BlendKit reading response, week 3

This week’s topic is blended assessments of learning. I was able to read it early, for a change, as I’m working the primary election polls today.

I appreciate the emphasis on transfer: “The most crucial step needed in each unit of instruction is the preparation for students’ transfer of learning to new contexts.” This was a Teaching Circle topic earlier this semester and we read a wonderful tale of a teacher’s struggles with her cadaver dog and her class, with lots of examples of transfer. This is often when the satisfying “Aha!” moments happen.

While traditional multiple choice exams are probably most common, there are many other options, formal and informal. Here’s advice any instructional technologist likes to hear: “Any tool that can be afforded the student should be considered to improve learning.” At the same time, one must exercise caution. Students must have full support, and the Reader provides lots of guidance.

ransomtech
image attribution flickr users ransomtech and vanguardvision

It’s interesting that commercial tools for remote proctoring are now available. I’d be curios to see some of them, but I can’t imagine a case for their use at a small, residential college like OWU.

When creating assessments, it’s important to account for all levels of learning, such as described I’m Bloom’s Taxonomy. The Reader claims that “Authentic assessment–assessing student abilities to apply knowledge, skills, and attitudes to real world problems–is not only possible in an online environment; it is getting more popular.” I agree. Many LMS offer statistics on student engagement, how much time they spend in the online environment and specifically where.

There is ample evidence that students who use self-testing do better on graded exams and other assignments. The more they engage with the course and course materials the better they will grasp it and transfer it. You can even allow students to generate their own questions and use some of them on an actual exam.

Reading and discussion reflections – BlendKit 2014 week 2

There was a nice discussion in one of the course forums on spontaneity in blended learning. Participants shared their challenges with allowing for or creating spontaneous interactions online. Stephanie Payzant suggested discussion forums as a place where this can happen asynchronously, as long as our processes and procedures are flexible. Someone else suggested projects where students must share information. Instructor modeling is key. And then another participant asked if “introducing spontaneity” wasn’t an oxymoron.

Blended interactions were the topic, and a lot of the reading and online discussion centered on the role of the educator in a networked world. When learning is decentralized, no longer one size fits all, and students are working within their own personal learning environment (PLE–an environment where people, tools, communities, and resources interact loosely, enabling an individual to learn in a world of fragmented and distributed information, rather than well organized and coherent,) what is the role of the teacher? The reading described four new roles for the educator:

  1. Master – one who observes the activities of students and draws their attention to innovative approaches.
  2. Network administrator – assists learners in forming connections and creating learning networks.
  3. Concierge – provides soft guidance and shows students things they didn’t know were available or possible.
  4. Curator – the expert learner creates spaces in which knowledge can be created, explored, and connected.

The catchy designation, “Guide on the side” comes to mind (as opposed to “sage on the stage”.) This is helpful for faculty to re-envision their role in the classroom and a course. Once we can imagine it, we can start taking steps toward making it a reality. Having multiple models also makes coming out of a comfort zone more palatable. I’d say for truly effective, dynamic learner-centered pedagogy the teacher must be something of all four. I’m familiar with that role-juggling or hat-switching in my job as the Educational Technologist on campus: I do technical training in workshop settings where I’m somewhat of a sage but also a driver, ensuring that everyone is following along and no one is being left behind. I do one-on-one sessions where I’m more of a coach or personal trainer. I consult in various ways where I’m concierge, offering options faculty weren’t aware of. I publish a lot of content online, here on my blog, on the Self Help Site, or in the new EdTech LibGuide; in this manner I’m more of a curator. When I visit faculty in Teaching Circle or other, similar settings, again I’m more of a concierge, offering what they need when they need it. And I’m literally a system administrator for our LMS, WordPress server, and more.

And then there was a nice exploration of student involvement with several tips to promote it. I like the advice that is the section heading: Construct assignments that encourage expression. …kind of like this one for #Blendkit2014

I actually got into the Week 2 Webinar–last week’s had maxed out before I got there! Here is what I look like while I’m attending:

This is why I don't do video calls at my desk.
This is why I don’t do video calls at my desk.

YAOS – Yet Another Online Store

Blackboard, the mammoth, monolithic LMS is announcing “a new resource that further simplifies the teaching and learning experience: the Blackboard Store(TM).” I can’t imagine how offering students or faculty another store with another expanding collection of apps/building blocks/publisher integrations/service providers is going to further simplify the teaching and learning experience. Here in the U.S. we’re paralyzed by the paradox of choice, and higher education is no exception.

Blackboard Logo

“Study hard. Shop easy.”

Reflections on BlendKit2014 week 2

A comment in the webinar on Monday: “At its heart, Blended learning is about diversity: diversity in learning styles, diversity in time, etc.” I like that, and feel that more instructors need to honor diversity in their teaching.

Our topic for this second week is blended interactions. How do/will we interact with our students in face-to-face versus online encounters? Discussions can take place in both modalities, online may be asynchronous in discussion forums or synchronous in chat rooms. F2F should reinforce/compliment online interactions and vice-versa.

Another comment in the webinar, in response to faculty balking at blended learning, calling it a fad: “They have to experience it to be convinced.” I sure hope not. The fact is that blended learning has been around for over 10 years and has been well documented. And as the saying goes, experience is the best teacher but only a fool learns from no other.

Avoiding ‘a course and a half’ or adding additional work for the students when incorporating online interactions was discussed. The importance of keeping it simple was stressed.

One piece of feedback on the technology used for the course, and this is feedback specifically on Adobe Connect: the interface is cluttered and clunky, especially compared to the much simpler interface of tools such as Skype, Google Hangouts or BlueJeans.

Webinar

Lastly–for now–the importance of balance has been a recurring theme, balance between f2f & online, as well as balance between structure and flexibility. I think it’s great that blended learning mirrors life. In life, in general, you have to find balance in lots of different ways. Blended learning is not overly analytical, not too emergent, not too this or too much that. And that brings us back to diversity. 🙂

BlendKit Course: Chapter 1 Reflection

BlendKitlogo

So the first week’s reading in the BlendKit course is on Understanding Blended Learning. It starts with defining the term, which is simply a mix (blend) of online learning and face-to-face learning. How much of one versus the other may vary from course to course and depends on various factors, including the level of the students/course, the subject matter, and the geographical spread of the students. While exclusively online learning offers modest benefits over exclusively face-to-face learning, Blended learning has proven advantages over both. The two approaches complement each other well when done well.

How to do blended learning well is a good deal of the reading. The planning process must begin with learning goals. I’ve always said that education must lead technology, not the other way around. It may be useful to consider ways to present and engage with a topic on a continuum from online at one end to face-to-face on the other. One should also consider synchronous–whether online or in-person–and asynchronous activities.

There were two approaches outlined, one illustrating blended learning as a controlled process and the other as an emergent process. While the former included a helpful list of key ingredients, the latter was described as “making patterns from clouds.” I think, even if you use the first option, you’ll still need to be an agile teacher when the rubber meets the road. Both offered structure, very helpful when teaching in multiple venues/media.

Then there were two case studies, one featuring a nice grid of different considerations for each type of learning:

  • Online Instruction
  • Facilitated Online Instruction
  • Blended Instruction, and
  • Studio-based Instruction

All of this was helpful in understanding blended learning in greater detail. The course is geared toward people planning or preparing to actually offer blended learning courses. I hope I get to share this knowledge I’m gaining with the faculty here. Perhaps a Teaching Circle or faculty lunch seminar presentation. It would also be nice to actually consult and advise on blended course design.

Khan Academy now offers a course (for coaches) on Blended Learning

An interesting development. From the introductory video, “The Case for Blended Learning“:

“
this course, which is essentially a Blended Learning 101 with an important caveat: we’re interested in high quality blended learning. We’re not interested in just layering technology on top of existing systems or pushing computers into the classroom. We’re interested in folks who are redesigning the structures and core concepts of how school works to make education more engaging for students, a more effective process, and increasing students’ ownership of the learning process.”
~ Michael Horn, Exec. Dir. Clayton Christensen Institute and Brian Greenberg, CEO Silicon Schools Fund, facilitators of the course

While their focus appears to be on K-12, the fact that they’re focusing on high quality pedagogy is relevant for higher ed. As primary schools improve their teaching and learning through blended learning, students will come to expect it more and more from their higher education institutions, and those that offer blended learning and do it well will differentiate themselves from other institutions that still look like remnants from the 19th century.

Did I mention that I like the emphasis on high quality blended learning?

One other note: there’s more and more information, research, and resources being released on blended learning every day. I’m glad I’m taking the timely BlendKit 2014 course with a cohort of my ISIS colleagues.

NowComment for turning documents into conversations

It seems every other day I learn of some online tool or system that can be used to improve education, and many of them are free. Today I learned of NowComment and got to try BlueJeans.

NowComment

NowComment I haven’t tried yet, but it was recommended by a colleague. With it you can upload files or use public docs and create discussion forums on them. You can also sort comments, skim summaries, create assignments, hide comments, reply privately, and much more. Accounts on NowComment are offered for free.

BlueJeans web conferencing

I actually got to try BlueJeans web conferencing. It was easy to set up and get started. While in the webinar it had the feel of a Google Hangout–smooth and distraction-free. I checked their website for pricing info, didn’t find any, so I assume it’s expensive.

The Maker Movement takes a giant leap forward

I just learned of this new 3D printer that uses paper (instead of spools of plastic floss) as input material and prints in full color! It’s absolutely amazing what one can now do with a 3D printer. The manufacturing industry may be ripe for disruption like the music and news industries over the last decade or so.

The Mcor Iris

Recent Developments

I’d like to start with a quote:

“a) teaching by telling does not work for most students, b) students who are part of an interactive community are more likely to be successful, and c) knowledge is personal; students enjoy themselves more and develop greater ownership over the material when they are given an opportunity to construct their own understanding.”

~ from the POGIL website. (Process Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning)

pogil_logo_print

I’m serving on the local OWU steering committee for the recent Mellon grant on digital scholarship, and it’s exciting. We’ve got some great projects firming up.

The OWU Radio Station is getting set to launch under new management and in a new space this semester. I’m working on the CPU now.

And, if all goes well, I’ll launch our own EdTech at OWU and Beyond LibGuide as well. This will be a central hub for educating faculty on developments in instructional technology.

Stay tuned.

The best assessment of MOOCs I’ve seen so far

The Chronicle

Jonathan Freedman (UM at Ann Arbor) writing for the Chronicle places the MOOC movement properly (IMHO) in the long history of middlebrow education:

Knowledge becomes a commodity you can buy rather than a product of a process that takes time, effort, and patience to master. [Bill] Gates’s words speak to a view of cultural attainments that we call middlebrow.

While Freedman connects MOOCs genealogically to lyceums and chautauquas, I also see connections to the self-help / self-improvement movements of the 19th & 20th centuries, as well as to oft-compared mail-order education. These options are not bad, especially for the upward-aspiring masses, and MOOCs are offering such a commodified education to the broadest market ever. Therein lies their promise and usefulness.

I’m confident that Universities will remain places where students learn that time-consuming, challenging process of critical problem solving and moral leadership. MOOCs are no competition there, especially when the single-most important factor in learning such life skills is the personal relationship with one or more significant mentors.

Freedman has some good recommendations for traditional brick and mortar colleges, and they align nicely with my own thoughts of op0en educational resources (OER) being a burgeoning public commons.

Instilling in the public a taste for culture and imparting scientific and social-scientific knowledge beyond the classroom was once part of the university’s mission.

Giving another try at a MOOC #edcmooc

So far, I’m pleased with the welcome I’ve received to this massively open online course (MOOC) E-Learning and Digital Cultures. It’s almost as if the course was designed by digital natives.

Along with the usual course welcome page there was also a “How to Study EDCMOOC” page that addressed the common problem of “This course is out of control! I can’t keep up!” and offered these specific tips:

  • Read selectively: you are not expected to engage with every single area of course content
  • Choose one or two media streams only to focus on: you can’t be everywhere at once
  • Let go of the notion of ‘being on top of things’ – this is also impossible – instead, enjoy the serendipity of the random encounter
  • Relax, select, investigate, think, write when it makes sense to write, and write in a space that you enjoy
  • Forget traditional online teaching methods: there are around 17,000 people on this course, only 5 teachers and 8 Community Teaching Assistants

and this video:

I already feel more at home.

Box of Tricks

I was working with a student this morning, assisting her to learn WordPress and build a professional portfolio site. She’s doing an independent study this year on the use of technology in education–right up my alley. She asked if I had heard of Box of Tricks. No, but when she showed me the site and its list of over 200 tried and tested internet resources, there were many there that I was familiar with. It was nice to have a little collegial exchange sprinkled amongst our mentor/pupil session, one of the many reasons I love my job.