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Wrapping Up

Whew! This was a challenging course, and we chose a challenging project – to redesign a course.  Of course, these are mere suggestions but these are suggestions that we are also considering for our own online courses we are developing.  There are two things that I take with me from this course:

  • Student characteristics and group dynamics are big factors to be considered in designing our courses.
  • Online learning communities are great tools with big potential that we should take advantage of.

wrapping up


Into the Rabbit Hole

“Education is the only business still debating the usefulness of technology.”
– Rod Paige, former U.S. Secretary of Education (2002)

I sometime don’t know whether I am falling into the rabbit hole or escaping. As I complete my final reflection, using this blog as my canvas, I can’t help but feel a bit confused about where I stand in reality. I believe it might be because I lack the hands on experience that is really called for in applying educational philosophies, experience, and best practices to online teaching.  I am prepared and ready to take on the e-classroom, not just in theory or even in practice, but I am ready to become the facilitator that I have created in my mind:

  • One who creates a curriculum around real life application
  • One who listens and reflects on what my students say
  • One who directs and shares through stories and real-life teaching experience

I am ready to emerge from this cocoon of education theories and practices and help students discover the usefulness of technology in learning, sharing, and overall best practices of education. Thank you for being a part of my journey.

Clearly Something’s Wrong Here

The following was from an article I read today (full article found at

Higher Education and the New Media Reality

  • By John K. Waters 07/28/11

As a cultural anthropologist and researcher in the modern discipline of digital ethnography, Michael Wesch likes to ask the big, complex questions: How do we find meaning and significance in the digital age? How is technology affecting society and culture? How are social media changing teaching and learning practices? But as a teacher, an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, he likes to ask his students one small, simple question at the start of each year.

“I ask, How many of you do not actually like school?” he said. “Almost invariably almost half raise their hands. Then I vary the question slightly. I ask, How many of you do not like learning? And I get no hands. These are people who like learning, but they don’t like it to be institutionally created for them. Clearly something’s wrong here.”


After reading this article and participating in several discussions related to assessment this week, it reinforces my opinion that we need to rethink and retool a few things.  As Wesch says, students want to learn, but what are the barriers in our institutions processes, policies, procedures, structures, and cultures that prevent this from happening?  How do we create authentic assessments that will engage students at a level where the learning is primary and the grade is an afterthought? Wesch and others are leading the way in this area, and it will be helpful to learn from other trailblazers when building and redesigning my online courses.



A New Competency


This week I got my copy of Training + Development magazine from ASTD (American Society for Training and Development). One article focused on social learning, which was defined in this way: “Social learning is what it sounds like – learning with and from others. It’s also about using social media tools to learn informally. At its most basic level, social learning helps people become more informed, gain a wider perspective, and make better decisions by engaging with others” (T+D, August 2011).

The article asked the question “what will the rise of social learning mean for learning and development professionals?”. To answer this question, ASTD commissioned a study which resulted in a change to the ASTD Competency Model. This model lists which skills are important for learning and development professionals. The article discusses three major themes: “(1) how social media can be used for learning, (2) fluency with social learning tools, and (3) knowledge of techniques for overcoming objections against using social media” (T+D, August 2011).

Social learning has now been identified as a key skill for training professionals. They recommend that “to use social learning most effectively, learning and development professionals must educate themselves on the tools and methods. Start a blog, participate in a wiki, attend a meeting in a virtual world, or use a Facebook-type tool to crowd source some sales information” (T+D, August 2011). It’s good to be ahead of the curve!

– Alice Boyd

Online Assessment

I am currently working on a course that supports reading comprehension of students with learning disabilities.  In designing the course, I need to find the right types of assessment that would match the learning styles of students.  This website has a short survey specifically for students with learning disabilities that I might include in the course to find out which assessments would match their strengths.  This can be a useful tool, but I have to ask myself: how practical is it to give this learning styles survey and redesign the entire assessment of the course, or should I give students different options for assessment? styles

What apprehension can you overcome by submitting your article for publication? Fear of Rejection

I found this video discussing submitting articles for publication. It not only was done well, but it spoke of my biggest fear, rejection. There are many apprehensions  that can come with submitting an article for publication:

  • It’s not good enough.
  • Will people think I am crazy?
  • Will my ideas be understood and received by my audience?
  • What am I missing?

As some of us consider submitting our articles for publication, this is when the real players play to win! I want to play to win! I say this tongue in cheek, there is nothing I’d like more than to publish an article, for so many reasons, one of them simply being that I talk a big talk when it comes to PBL and real life application, and this is exactly what this assignment calls for. But I fear! I fear the unexpected. I fear rejection. I fear my heart racing as I open an email or letter, approving or rejecting my article for publication.

Can I step-up and trust that I have indeed received an education that is worthy of the ideas and concepts floating around in my head? Can I trust that I can take these ideas and apply them to an article that others might read, consider, and even apply to their own educational philosophies?

Now is the time.




Educational Reform

Xenophobia seems to have always been in our educational system.  There has always been resistance to many educational changes.  However, there are people who appreciate change, and by working together maybe these changes can be implemented and actually be successful.  The Facebook page ‘Education Forum’ is an example of how online learning communities can tackle the concept of change.  It’s a one-credit course by Bennington students, but the site as well as the resources are open to the public.  Sadly, I haven’t seen any updates since January.  We need more online communities such as this to challenge ideas, the system and ourselves.

Cherry (hopeful)


educational reform



I spent the day working on restoring my grandmother’s quilt. It is in the Grandmother’s Flower Garden pattern, made up of linked hexagons. This is the grandma I was named for, and she died when I was five, so I didn’t know her well. I’m restoring the quilt that a brother overused because I want to hold on to the pieces I have of her.

The pattern reminds me of the links we have with each other. In the last week on a social media site, a friend posted memories of her recently deceased father, another friend asked for help in bringing in meals for a friend with a recent surgery, and one of my son’s friends shared feelings about his recent divorce. All in an online world. Online classmates are helping user test a website for a group in another class, and one of the group members has classmates for other classes helping. Pieces and patches and circles that make up a social network.

 – Alice Boyd (connected)

Philip Arnold – Week 7 Reflection

There were good discussions this week about our educational system – current problems, and potential strategies and solutions.  I really appreciated the fact that other classmates felt enough trust in the discussion to play devil’s advocate, and as a result, I feel like I was challenged to think in greater depth about my position and theirs.  I goes to show what can happen in an online community when a comfort level is established through constructive debate – I know that future discussions can go beyond maybe where they went previously.

Although I am critical and frustrated with our educational system’s resistance to change, I remain hopeful.  Today, our college signed an online articulation agreement with Missouri University to allow students to pursue advanced degrees without having to leave their communities, families, and jobs.  And, more articulations are planned in the state and across the country.  These are exciting times, and the opportunities and access to education will only continue to grow.

– Philip (keeping the faith)

Communities Can’t be Manufactured; what is my job?


“Communities can’t be manufactured, but you can design the conditions under which they are most likely to emerge, and encourage their growth when they do” Rheingold (pg. 65). As I design and implement a class, intended to share theories and best practices of instruction with future educators, I will emphasize a student centered approach to learning.  While demonstrating through social means what I hope to see my students emulating in their own classes with their own students, I will be effectively modeling the Constructivist Method. The online classroom is an ideal place for student centered learning.  Within this environment it will be crucial to provide explicit expectations and instructions for the online student and how their success will be measured.The goals and assignments that I give to my online students must be well thought out and carefully implemented, because I will not be there to constantly monitor my students, to provide immediate feedback and correction.  It will be my task to guide all students to content mastery through course learning objectives, because it may not be a possibility to fill in the missing pieces in person.

Student expectations, both skills-based and academic, will be clearly defined in the syllabus.  The academic expectations will align with mastery of the course learning objectives, and the skills-based expectations will coincide with professional skills such as communication, work ethic, organization, time management, and technology skills including online agility and netiquette .  In the online environment it can be difficult to model and hold students accountable to some of the skills-based expectations, but I believe it can be done through various project ideas such as: E-Portfolios, Video and Peer Evaluations of Practicum and Theory, and Discussion Boards where students are given the responsibility of choosing the given topic and facilitating the discussion. Students must become comfortable with the idea that they are “architects of their own learning”, a quote from Elizabeth F. Barkley. They are an integral part to the online learning community and the quality education that takes place.

Candice Rutherford

Resources: The Art of Hosting Good Conversations Online, By Howard Rheingold