Sunday, August 26, 2007

Development for ENG 112 Online

The development of the ENG 112 Online Course is going a little more slowly than I had hoped.

I picked a new textbook, which is fantastic (!). However, reading it and re-structuring assignments around it is consuming much of my time right now.

My goal is to get pretty far on it over the Labor Day weekend.

Reflection on Week 1

Through a Discussion Board thread on Blackboard I created called "Virtual Cafe," I met all of the students enrolled in my ENG 111 Online Class.

Most seem nice, diligent, and eager to learn in an online environment. Though I have two students who showed up the "first day" to introduce themselves and didn't complete the rest of the week's coursework.

To make sure each student knows where they stand in the class, I crafted weekly progress reports and sent them to the students via email. Obviously, I wrote a very firm email to the two who didn't complete their work; I explained the importance of doing the work and the repercussions for not completing the work (which is portfolios aren't automatically submitted, which means not completing work could result in not passing the course). In my progress reports to the other students, I praised them for aspects of the class they are succeeding in and suggested one way they could improve their online participation.

Based on their Discussion Board posts regarding the Discussion Questions, I feel their responses are a little on the brief side. So most of my suggestions on the progress reports asked the students to develop their ideas more with specific examples and support.

I particularly was excited to read the students' blogs. Each week I give students a prompt to respond to on their own blog. Then on Sundays, I read their blogs and comment on them. Again, the posts to the blogs seem a little on the short side, but it is the first week. I think students will start posting more when they get into the throes of the semester and have more to respond to.

In terms of the workload of teaching online, I find that as long as I stick to a schedule, I don't feel overwhelmed. I check the Discussion Board and Gradebook on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and this task normally takes me an hour or two depending on how many comments I make or how much work students have posted. Then I worked Sunday morning for about 2 1/2 hours, documenting all of the work that was completed by the due date (Fridays by 11:59 p.m.), writing progress emails, and commenting on blogs and Discussion board posts.

Overall, I'm really pleased with the work I'm seeing, and I look forward to reading the students' essay within the upcoming weeks.

To view some of my students' blogs, check out these links:
Creations by Rose

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

It's A Go!

My online class has 8 students, and I got official word it's going to run this semester!

I can't find language for how relieved and excited I am!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Update 8/10/07

As of today I have six students enrolled in my ENG 111 Online course, according to my roster available through Blackboard.

And as of today I haven't gotten any news either way for if I'm teaching it or if its getting cut, which I see as a positive. (No news equals good news.)

I'm continuing to work on my ENG 112 online class, but the process is slow. I've been trying to decide on a textbook for the course. I think the one that I have been using is a bit outdated. My only problem is I haven't come across any other texts that seem "right" either. This road block has let to me a standstill. I need to figure out the text so I can revise the assignments, create reading discussions for the Discussion Board, and brainstorm ideas for incorporating multimedias with the readings.

Any recommendations for Research Writing texts that include information on Source Synthesis?

Thinking Along the Same Lines

I just read this recent post on TerenceOnline.

I agree with Dr. Mark David Milliron's thoughts.

My only concern is how to overcome the resistance to online education.

I'd like to know some strategies for helping aboard those who are resistant. Any ideas?

Friday, August 3, 2007

PB Wiki is Awesome!

The more I play around on PB Wiki, the more teaching ideas I'm getting.

I think it might be the best wiki choice--for teachers, students, or onliners.

One of its coolest features: You can subscribe to it, which gives you up-to-the-minute edits.

Very cool.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bad News and Good News

I'll start with the bad news.

Because of low enrollment, there's a very, very huge chance that my online class that I have discussed in this blog is going to be cut from this Fall's Schedule of Classes.

To say the least, I'm not happy. I worked really hard to make the online course multi-dimensional and engaging. My goal was the make this course as personable and challenging as my f2f classes, and I met that goal. My dream is to see it run. I'm saying prayers and keeping my fingers crossed.

I just hadn't thought about low enrollment until I talked with my boss a few weeks ago. In order for students to enroll in the online class, they must meet certain requirements: one is that they must be a.) a student who needs the class b/c his/her schedule doesn't work with a f2f class, b.) an adult learner who is taking classes through Continuing Ed, c.) a commuter or d.) a student who has not taken the class before f2f and not passed it. Once the student's information is verified, then he/she goes through an online screening process to make sure he/she effectively can complete online tasks. Though I fully understand the intentions behind the requirements and screening process, I feel like more students would be enrolled if the requirements were a more open to on-campus students who might have a job and/or activities that an online class would benefit. Heck, it would be great if any on-campus, commuter, and distant learner could easily enroll in the class. I really believe that any student would comprehend the work load and be able to navigate Blackboard after one week in my online class, which makes me wonder if the screening process is completely necessary. Without the screening process, I feel more students would register for the class because it would be one less step to worry about. Again, I fully understand that the intention of the screening process is to weed out students who want an easy way out of a required course. However, I firmly believe any student who registered in my online class b/c he/she thought it would be easier than attending class would find out quite quickly the first week that I expect a lot from my online students, just as much as my f2f students.

I support my department. Period. I just wonder if there are revisions that could be made to the registration of online classes in order to encourage enrollment. Online classes are the way of the future. I seriously learned so much from the online class I took through IDEAL (in order to train instructors to teach online) that I wish my graduate program would have had online classes. I would have taken them. And I bet I would have retained more from my program than I did.

While thinking about the merits of online teaching, I decided that the #1 benefit of teaching writing online is that writing is the main form of communication! How perfect, huh? Students learn even more about writing as they write discussion board responses, collaborative suggestions, feedback to peers, emails to the instructor and peers, etc. Talk about applying what a student learns about audience, tone, focus, etc.! Online classes are a valuable and progressive learning environment, especially those, like mine, that incorporate Web 2.0 technologies to keep students alert and challenged and those that take online learning seriously by clearly stating student expectations and responsibilities. In fact, I bet a lot of students experience more hands-on learning online than in a classroom where the temperature in the room might be too hot or too cold, where a student might be tempted to stare out the window daydreaming about tonight's plans while the instructor writes on the board, where making a good impression on the cute person in the next seat over is more important than the day's lesson, where some students even SLEEP. I remember being a student quite vividly. Hence, I did not retain a lot of lessons from my grad school courses, or more so, my undergrad courses. I had other things going on. I was at class, but most times my mind was somewhere else. Maybe I would be an even smarter teacher and person if I could have had online classes that let me learn when I was focused and ready to learn. At some point students have to learn to be responsible for their learning. Online classes makes them responsible for learning and taking their education into their own hands. How rad!

Online classes are the wave of the future, and I just feel that if my university plans on keeping up with the times, then every department needs to have a few online classes and inform instructors and professors about the usefulness of technology. Otherwise, more and more students are going to be daydreaming and sleeping while instructors try desperately to figure out how they can keep their students' attentions.

I promise to reveal the results once I find them out. Please keep your fingers crossed.

In the Spring I hope to teach the researched writing course online. I'm beginning to work on that course now, so expect more frequent posts. I'm excited about developing that course online b/c it has great potential for tying in multi-medias and even more Web 2.0 applications.

And now for even more good news: My "intro to the essay" videos are edited and uploaded to uTube. Check them out! I'm really pleased with the fabulous work! Thank you so much Terence and Michael!