Monday, September 24, 2007

Week 6 Reflection

By Week 6 I was hoping that my online students would be adjusted to our class' module and schedule of work. Unfortunately, only a few have seemed to grasp the open-ended-ness our our module--that all work must be completed by Friday at 11:59 p.m.

In the Achievement Requirements (AR), which students read Week 1, I explicitly explained how I expected students to approach each week's work and how to appropriately divide up that work. Unlike other online classes that give each task a due date, I explained in the AR that students should do the work according to their schedules and to approach a schedule like so: Monday for Lectures, Reading, and Quizzes, Wednesday for Discussion Boards and Wikis, and Friday for Blogs. But still the majority of students seem to have a hard time understanding each week's work (even though the organization of tasks are the exact same EVERY week and they perform these tasks EVERY week) and completing assignments by Friday at 11:59 p.m. It seems like students are picking and choosing what work they "feel" like doing. This is problem I have been addressing since Week 1, but to no avail.

To address this issue, I have sent individualized emails further explaining (strictly but kindly) my expectations to students who are having a hard time completing the work. When that didn't seem to work, I sent group emails (again in an authoritative tone that was stern AND encouraging), not naming students who weren't doing work but calling attention again to my expectations, hoping to get everyone on the same page. And when that hasn't seemed to work, I wrote an authoritatively detached email (that I also posted as an announcement) that students who fail to complete ALL of the week's work will be considered absent, and three absences will result in a portfolio not being submitted and an NR grade in the class.

I'm frustrated I had to resort to a "threat," but I can't figure out how else to motivate certain students in an online class setting. I can't understand why some of these students are in an online class, but they don't want to do the work of an online class.

For the ENG 112 course I am creating, I'm going to more strongly and clearly state my course expectations. Not only in the AR but also I plan to create a screen capture of a week's module, explain how to manage the module and break it down into times, and demonstrate how to use all of the Web 2.0 technologies like creating a blog and using a blog as well as how to use a wiki.

Some of my students are still resisting the wiki. I've revised the wiki assignments twice and even included a how-to video on wikis, and still there is resistance.

Am I using "too new" of Web 2.0 apps? I don't think so. I always thought my students were way more techie than me. But I may be very wrong.

Or I may be seeing that the resistance to these new technologies is a resistance to change in distance education and/or a resistance to students comprehending that online classes aren't "easy" or "no- brain-ers."

When I do become frustrated, I think about what I would change and how I would change and jot down the ideas so I can carry them through in my 112 class.

And I say to myself, "Thank God ENG 111 Online is a pilot course..."

Saturday, September 1, 2007

More on 112 Development

I spent the majority of the day working on my course shell for ENG 112.

I'm excited because I got pretty far--up to Week 8 (three paper cycles).

The biggest challenge I experienced was working with the new text From Inquiry to Academic Writing. If I could have relied on my syllabi from past semesters, I would be done developing the 112 course. However, because I chose to use a new text, I've been spending a lot of time reading the text and then creating coursework that works with the text and reinforces its lessons.

A Smart Move: I've been keeping a cheat sheet of what I want to do a couple of weeks before the class goes live. It's really helped me see what I have left to do and keep track of ideas for what I should do.

Reflection on Week 2

The ENG 111 Online Class is going really well!

This week's Discussion Question regarding possible topics for Essay 1 was outstanding! My students not only thought of really interesting topics, such as the kindergarten birthday cut-off dates and how it affects children with disabilities in addition to policies regarding sexual predators, but also they responded quite intelligently to one another's ideas. It was fabulous!

Despite the progress reports I sent last week, still I have two students who are not pulling their weight and doing the coursework. I'm not sure if this is because they are first-year students and haven't taken an online class before or if it is because they don't understand the tasks I have asked them to complete.

I've been sending personal emails to both of these students to "check up" on them, but haven't heard a response from either. I'm concerned for them because I don't want to see them fail just because they didn't do the coursework but they did do the essays. As a last resort I have "First Alerted" them--a program we have a BGSU to inform advisors of students' behaviors during the first few weeks, so they can help the students.

Rough drafts are due next week, so I shall see...

The two most interesting facts about this week is that almost all of my students did NOT do the Wiki assignment I included in the coursework. I'm thinking my directions weren't clear enough or they could not access Writeboard. (I tried from many other computers and it was hard to access...As of now, I much prefer PBWiki!) I emailed my class to figure out the problem so I could right it and we could continue to use Wikis in our class. Also, 2/3 of the students did not post to their blogs this week.

Full moon or laziness?