Final Reflection on SLN Intership

December5

At the beginning of this semester I had no clue what SLN was all about. All I knew was that it had something to do with online teaching and learning. So initially, my goals for this internship included simply understanding the purpose and services offered by SLN. Through discussions with Dan, Mike, Rob and Alex I finally feel like I have a good grasp on all that SLN has to offer. And I have to say the schools being provided with these services are lucky to have such a committed team behind them. What impressed me the most about the staff at SLN was that they were constantly looking to learn more themselves. They wanted to study the effectiveness of their own courses and do research to better inform their decisions in the future.
Viewing courses from the eyes of an instructor was one of my favorite experiences this semester. I enjoyed analyzing discussions in one of the ID certificate program courses as it was a totally different approach for me. I also enjoyed looking at the self-paced Bb training courses offered by SLN to help ease the transition from Angel to Bb Learn. It felt very natural to me to look at a course through the eyes of an instructor or instructional designer and look for the most effective practices as well as make suggestions. This definitely made me realize how much I would enjoy evaluating others’ courses in the future to help them deliver more effective, meaningful instruction online.
I am disappointed that we didn’t get to finish the Recognition Initiative/Awards project and look forward to continuing to work on this with Alex and Dan over the next few months although I will not be technically doing the internship. It was a project I was really excited about, so I absolutely want to see it through. I will be starting a new job soon and taking two classes online, but I’m hoping if I can get some feedback and Dan and Alex have more free time, we can get this program out there and acknowledge exemplary and innovative online instructors.
All in all, this was a wonderful experience from which I learned a great deal. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to come in the office once a week like Diane. I truly believe I could have accomplished a great deal more has I has more one-on-one face time with everyone. Thank you all for the amazing experiences and opportunities!

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Rockland Trip – SLN Intership # 16

November28

My day with Rob and Alex at the Rockland Community College Trainings was an excellent experience.  On the car ride down we discussed the importance of thoroughly reviewing a course is in the instructional designer experience.  The ID certificate program doesn’t currently include this but the idea was thrown around about perhaps adding a 5th course to the program that focuses strictly on course evaluation.  I think this is a fantastic idea.  Reviewing courses for me has been one of the most beneficial learning experiences for me in this field.  Each week of the four week course could focus on evaluation a specific aspect of an online course and the participants would all be discussing the same “topic” but from different points of view depending on the course they observed.  Hearing about the possibility of this 5th course in the ID certificate program makes me want to participate in the program even more. Unfortunately I have no time right now.  I’m hoping by the next time it starts up again I will have some time in my schedule to participate and learn from a community of people with such similar interests to my own.

When Rob began his training at Rockland he mentioned initially that your course should be just simply “vanilla” ice cream and you can always add to it and improve it later.  Basically, don’t bite off more than you can chew in the beginning.  I had a flash back to Alex mentioning this in her course and thinking to myself, “If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it with a bang! No vanilla here!”  And I feel that I was definitely able to create at least a strawberry course with whipped cream that I am still extremely proud of.

Alex’s portion of the training was geared more towards returning staff and ways to incorporate technology and web 2.0 tools into your courses to enhance presentation, engagement and assessment.  Hearing Alex say that she doesn’t expect them to use all of these in their first course but to think of the possibilities made me giggle a little bit.  So, she was telling experienced staff not to get too stressed about this stuff but totally immersed her students into all of it in an “Intro” course.  I’m thrilled I got the experience, it just made me think about how different my experience would have been had I had another instructor that looked at the definition of “intro” in a totally different way.

Going into these trainings, I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to contribute since Alex and Rob are obvious experts in this field.  What I realized however was that I had a unique viewpoint having been a student in Alex’s class as well as currently taking an online course.  I felt that my experience as an online student as well as someone who has created a course from scratch gave me an interesting perspective to share experiences from.

These trainings were valuable and gave helpful information to the participants.  However, I still firmly believe that in order to teach an online course in the most effective way possible, it should be a requirement to take a course such as Alex’s where you simultaneously get the experience of being an online student while creating a course from scratch.  To learn about pedagogy and best practices while implementing them into your own course.  It is truly learner-centered, active, constructivist learning and the best way to come away with deep understanding and applicable knowledge.

Thinking back on this day has confirmed for me once again that I have a deep passion for online learning and teaching.  The idea of being able to give guidance to the people in that room and help direct them with instructional design choices for their courses is something I would love to do.  I had a conversation with Rob about how much I would love to evaluate people’s courses and offer them advice.  He told me of a time when SUNY only had 4 Instructional Designers total and he would at times be evaluating 100 courses at a time.  While I think 100 may be a little much at once to truly give thoughtful feedback, I hope to someday be able to fulfill my dream and help others reach their students the way that I have been reached.

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Reviewing Introduction to Bb Learn – SLN Internship # 15

November17

Dan asked me to take a look at the Bb training courses developed for faculty that will be switching from other Learning Management Systems to Blackboard in the next few years.  I finished reviewing the first of these courses today.  This experienced made me realize just how many skills I have now in terms of online teaching and learning.  Throughout the review process I found myself switching from the role of a a student to the role of an instructor.  I was utilizing my experiences as a student as well as the knowledge I have gained regarding best practices in online teaching and learning.  I was thinking about pedagogy, constructivism,student-based learning and the quality matters rubric.  I was thinking about the needs and fears of these instructors based on what I’ve heard in various ID meetings.

What I realized my biggest asset was however, was the experience I had in Alex’s course being a student and developing an asynchronous course while I learned.  Learning about pedagogy and best practices while I was applying them, learning in a truly constructivist, student-centered environment while creating my own course based on these principles internalized this knowledge in a deep way in which I never experienced before.  Every experience I’ve had and resource I’ve read since then has a strong foundation to build on and has made me capable of what I am today.  I really enjoyed reviewing this course and providing suggestions.  I felt like I made valid points and gave helpful ideas.  I look forward to reviewing the second course and hope to be able to continue this type of work in the future.

ID Meeting 11.6.2012 – SLN Internship #14

November10

When I saw that this meeting was about migrating from Angel to Blackboard I wondered how much there was to talk about since it has been discussed at the last few meetings.

Rob shed some light on the rationale behind the migration pointing out that the Chancellor wants all campuses on common LMS platforms for cross registrations, cost-efficiency, etc…The change must happen by 2017 when Angel will no longer be supported.  Grady posed the question of “why not consider an open source like Moodle?”  Rob answered that the Chancellor is pushing for Blackboard and the selection process has been done for a while.  He also pointed out that you are not going to be required to go to Blackboard, but SLN will not support Angel after 2017 and will only be supporting Blackboard.  You will be free to use any LMS at 2017, but will only receive support for Blackboard.  SLN can support 2 platforms but Angel will not be one of them past 2017.

Each campus conversion process will include 2 semesters of planning and prep and 4 semesters of migration before Blackboard courses go live.  Pilot training will happen for faculty at 12 weeks and 6 weeks before courses go live.  Both of these trainings are 2 and a half days long, for 2 separate groups and are very hands-on.  Rob also mentioned that there will be stand-alone Bb training courses to use as a resource.  Dan has asked me to look through these courses and provide him with feedback.  I’m really looking forward to looking through these courses not only as someone who has experience as an online student but also from the mind frame of an instructor who would be using Bb for the first time.

People seem to be voicing the same concerns.  Vicky said it seems like putting all our eggs in one basket (Bb) seems like a bad idea.  She also voiced that Angel is better than Bb.  The other usual concerns brought up were time for training and conversion of courses, etc… Other participants were pointing out benefits of Moodle and Pearson.  Many said they wanted to be the campus to convert last.

Rob was trying to get the point across that this is really happening and can’t be delayed inevitably.  SLN can only commit to 4 new campus migrations at once.  We aren’t going to be able to wait until the last minute and migrate everyone.  It just isn’t feasible.  SLN has come up with a timetable outlining how long migration will take the structure of how SLN will handle it the next few years. I felt bad for Rob as I have when this topic has been brought up at meetings in the past.  He must have felt like he was repeating himself over and over again.  While I understand that change is difficult for everyone and that a large change such as this is very time consuming, I feel like since the decision has been made it is time to accept it and move forward.

I’m reminded of a situation I am currently going through at my school.  There are a large amount of Kindergarten students being pulled from our classrooms this year for AIS support because of a large level of need.  There was frustration about the amount of time they were being pulled and the specific times they were being pulled.  While I agreed this was inconvenient, I didn’t see the point in complaining about something we couldn’t change.  I suggested coming up with a solution as to how to provide those students with the information they were missing from class time rather than complain about a schedule we had no control over.  My solution was to have some 4th grade students come down during their free time and work with these students in groups of 2 for a half an hour a few times a week as well as providing parents with extra activities at home.  Yes, this created more work and took extra effort from me, but it accomplished something and will benefit everyone in the long run.

I hope to see a change in future meetings where everyone is working together to discuss solutions and action.  If the instructors at each of these campuses are going to handle this transition smoothly, their ID’s need to present it to them in a positive light.

I.D. Meeting 10.23.12 – SLN Internship #13

October29

Blackboard Fear

I viewed this past week’s I.D. meeting and there seems to be a recurring theme:  Apprehension and hesitation about switching over to Blackboard.  This week the instructional designers voiced concern about the amount of people that need to be trained for the change, the time to convert all the courses and the elements they have on Angel that would be missing on Blackboard.  They also wanted to know when they should start preparing and seemed like they wanted to stay on Angel for as long as possible.  Rob advised that if campuses waited too long, a successful conversion wouldn’t be feasible.  SLN will be providing 2 self-paced stand alone courses to introduce faculty to Blackboard.  The first course is for faculty that won’t be getting into using Blackboard too deeply and will be called Intro to Blackboard Learn.  The second course, Intermediate Blackboard Learn is for more advanced features and topics and geared towards fully online courses.  Both courses will feature tutorials, proficiency tasks and the opportunity to communicate with others.  If you are a fully online teacher you would complete BOTH courses.  It was also pointed out that there are a variety of resources on confluence offering “just in time” training by means of videos and pdfs, and it will be searchable.  These resources are not going to be about pedagogy, only about how to implement things in Blackboard.  I understand the apprehension and hesitation for making such a drastic change and the stress that comes with the amount of time it will take to convert courses.  However, I feel that SLN is providing more than adequate resources with the courses as well as what is available on confluence.  We know that the most successful online learners are self-motivated and driven to learn, so I am confident that the conversion, although stressful, will be successful since these instructional designers possess these qualities to be in these positions in the first place.

Wish List for Workshops/Trainings

Rob’s wishes for future trainings and workshops to be provided by SLN included: lecture capture, mobile learning, apps/ipads for teachers, direct instruction, flipped classrooms and assessment tools/tracking assessment.  These ideas provided by Rob were mentioned in past I.D. meetings by the other participants.

The I.D.’s added to the wishlist with: pedagogy, cool tools to inspire students, teaching unprepared students, ADA and copyright compliance and developmental courses set up for student success.  I found myself thinking that Alex’s “Catch up and Complete” program would probably have a good amount of information to provide a workshop on the developmental courses that the I.D.’s desired.

Hands-on Labs – Joyce Springer

Listening to Joyce Springer’s presentation on Hands-on Labs was an interesting experience for me.  I’m always skeptical when someone is obviously trying to “sell me something”.  That being said, I can see the potential this program has in providing more opportunities for online learning. For people that have absolutely no time or means of going to school to attend a lab, they can now have the lab materials at their homes and take any course that has a lab element fully online.   I also think it is good that the company works directly with financial aid, requiring no extra work from the student or the professor and the lab manual can be directly downloaded to the LMS for the course.  We know that actually DOING something is the best way to truly learn, so providing students with these hands-on experiences is far better than simply watching a video, reading a text or even participating in a virtual environment.  My biggest concern with this is safety.  Joyce said things are shipped in small quantities so they are safe to ship.  I am not concerned with the safety of shipping these labs.  I am concerned with what happens when people get these lab kits into their homes.  What if they don’t read the manual or follow the directions correctly?  It makes me a little uneasy…And as I said before, I’m always skeptical when someone is giving a sales pitch.  I’m curious to see the results of success with this program.

A day at the office 10.26.12 – SLN Internship # 12

October28

Every day I spend at the SLN office I am amazed at how much I accomplish and how much I learn.  This past Friday was no exception.  The day started with a meeting with Dan and Alex about the SLN Recognition Initiative/SLN Awards (formerly known as SLN Fellows Program).  A lot was accomplished in this meeting including renaming the program 🙂 We fine-tuned some things and narrowed the focus tremendously.  It will now consist of 2 awards: SLN Effective Practice Award and SLN Excellence Award.  We decided on criteria for each as well as what information we will highlight for each recipient.  There will be 2 recipients for each award now.  My next task is to create an email to send to the Instructional Designers that work with these recipients describing the program and explaining the nomination process.  I will also be creating applications for each award.  I feel confident now that I fully understand the program, the awards and the criteria and am looking forward to creating the applications.

True Collaboration:

This is the second time I have had a meeting with Dan and Alex and in both meetings I was impressed with the level of true collaboration.  I felt much more comfortable and confident this time around and felt that I was truly a part of the collaboration as well.  For Dan and Alex, the way they conduct meetings is probably the norm for them and maybe they don’t see anything extraordinary about it.  But I do.  There is a mutual respect for everyone involved, a mutual curiosity for the others input and thoughts.  There is a belief in each others abilities and knowledge.  And I’m sure a comfort level with each other that contributes to the collaboration as well.

I experienced this same level of collaboration in my meeting with Rob and Diane a couple of weeks ago.  All of the same characteristics were present.  And even though this was my first time meeting Rob I was still treated with the same level of respect as Alex and Dan and my thoughts and input were seen as valuable.  I felt like a part of a true team and the experiences I am having collaborating with everyone at SLN has taught me a great deal and is something I will take with me wherever I may end up.

Confidence:

The past few months of my life, since I started the CDIT program with Alex’s course, has changed me dramatically.  The biggest change has been in my confidence.  I knew I was a good teacher and that I was intelligent.  There was a part of me that thought I had more to offer outside the Kindergarten classroom which is why I started the CDIT program in the first place.  What I wasn’t expecting was to fall in love with online learning and teaching.  And I never saw my ability to learn new technology coming!  Not only do I love online teaching and learning and everything it entails, it turns out I’m actually really good at it!  I had a talk with Alex on Friday that further boosted my confidence and made me realize I am truly capable of anything I set my mind to and have a bright future ahead of me 🙂

Stop Stealing Dreams, Seth Godin: A definite MUST WATCH – Thanks for the link Alex!

October27

Stop Stealing Dreams

This video made me mad and excited all at the same time!  It made me so mad about the past state of education and the how far the current state of education is from where it needs to be.  It got me excited thinking if only everyone could see this, feel this, know this…maybe things could actually change!

The big question – WHAT IS SCHOOL FOR?

The unfortunate answer: Teaching obedience and respect.

Standardized tests  initially came about during WW1 because of the huge influx of students with the addition of HS, they needed to sort them all out. The man who came up with the concept out of necessity at the time said 10 years later it was crude and didn’t need to be used anymore…No one listened 🙁

The Industrial age –

  • we are products of  this age; factories didn’t have enough workers, needed more workers to pay them less $, Universal public education was initially created to train people to be willing to work in factories, comply and fit in…if not, you are held back…system of interchangeable people
  • People get frustrated when there isn’t ONE right answer to something…we want the RIGHT answer, creativity is gone, concerned about getting everything right on the tests

8 things that will/should need to change:

  1. Homework during day with teacher facilitation, lecture at night (free open courses)
  2. Open book, open note all the time – memorization is useless, anything memorized can be looked up!!!!
  3. Access to any course in the world at any time by any one, no certain order
  4. Precise focused education instead of mass batched stuff, no more multiple choice exams
  5. Measure experience instead of test scores, resume is proof of compliance
  6. Cooperation instead of isolation
  7. Teacher role transforms into coach
  8. Life long learning with learning happening much earlier in life
  9. Death of the famous college, not good college, famous college – why are we working harder to get a famous brand name that has no relevance to success or happiness?

 Important points/quotes that had a huge impact on me:

  • Why don’t we want to teach our kids to do something interesting and figure something out?
  • WE tell them to comply and fit in and be like their peers  – this reflects on the parents and how well they trained them.  We are telling our kids to collect dots (scores, etc…), not connect dots (create).
  • “Grades are an illusion, passion and insight are reality.”
  • “Your work is more important than your congruence to an answer key”
  • “Persistence in the face of a skeptical authority figure is priceless and yet we undermine it”
  • “fitting in is a short term strategy that gets you no where, standing out is a long term strategy that takes guts and gets results”
  • “If you care enough about your work to be criticized for it than you have done a good day’s work”
  • MYTH: Great performance in school leads to happiness and success.
  • MYTH: Great parents have kids who produce great performance in school.

 

WHAT IS SCHOOL FOR?

Until “we” can agree what school is for we aren’t going to get where we need to be.

Education needs to go back to teaching – SLN Internship #11

October24

Alex provided me with the following link to The Future of Learning, Networked Society – Ericsson .

This video started out discussing the history of education and how originally students were processed as if they were in a factory which wanted to produce the same outcome for each student.  Unfortunately, I still feel like this is the case in many situations.  With the growth of technology and the endless possibilities to access information out there, this no longer needs to be the case.  The main points I took away from this video were:

  • Teachers need to point minds to questions, not answers.  Students should find the answers themselves which ends up with deeper learning anyway.
  • Education needs to be individualized for students and not the same for everyone.  An example was given of how many students can sit still for 8 hours and remember what they learned 2 weeks later.  A child with ADHD however cannot learn this way so is medicated to fit the mold of the school rather than the school fitting what the child needs.
  • Standardized testing does not prepare students for the real world.  No one takes standardized tests in the real world!  Students get prepared for these tests and there are usually no surprises.  This is not how the real world works – there are surprises around every corner.  How are we preparing students to handle this?
  • The connectivity offered by technology and the internet opens up a world of possibilities and connects people all over the world to learn from one another.  It allows students to have exposure to a wider variety of information and resources.

Knewton Adaptive Learning Platform

Knewton personalizes online learning content for students.  It offers courses that are truly individualized for the student.  It figures out your learning styles and how you learn best and tailors your instruction to best suit you.  It can predict failure in advance and address it.  It is not currently available to everyone, but this seems like a great resource for the future.

Coursera

Coursera provides 195 free courses from 33 universities.  They currently have between 10,000 and 30,000 students enrolled in each course. The courses have interactive videos, real authentic assessment and a community of students to work with each other as teachers and as social support.  The premise of this service is to open opportunities for people to take high quality courses at no cost that wouldn’t have otherwise been available to them.  Open education is the wave of the future and I for one am excited about it.  It is a good step in the direction of bridging the poverty gap and allowing equal access and opportunities to all.

My favorite quote: “Revolutions destroy perfect and enable the impossible.”

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My analysis and thoughts on ID2 discussion on Internet Searching Skills – SLN Internnship # 10

October24
  • As someone who has participated in many online discussions, I was surprised at how well this discussion stayed on topic.  In the majority of discussions I have participated in at least a few participants end up going off on tangents and others follow them right along.  I found myself wondering what characteristics the discussion starter had that led to this.  When comparing this discussion starter to others I have participated in, I don’t really see any differences.  So what was it then that kept this discussion so on task?  Perhaps it is because of the type of participants involved.  The participants in this discussion all have experience in online teaching and learning and are motivated to better themselves in the field.  Maybe it is their prior experience and expertise in the field that helps keep them on track.
  • While there were many helpful suggestions provided by the participants in this discussion regarding internet searching skills, there were still many concerns and many questions left unanswered.  The most popular skill that participants felt were needed to perform an internet search with integrity was having information literacy and using critical thinking to recognize a reputable source.  While some participants discussed teaching this information to their students, it seems like there is a large need for more training in this area for both students and instructors.  With the internet and technology still growing at an exponential rate, maybe it is time for information literacy and critical thinking skills regarding the use of the internet as a resource to be a requirement for all students in all levels of education.
  • The Google Guide and information about Boolean searches are both beneficial tools to perform more specific searches on a desired topic.  However, the fact that Google doesn’t actually index the entire internet means you are still missing possible valuable information.  I am also bothered by the fact that subscriptions are required to academic search engines that would provide far more reliable resources.  Unless you are a student at a college or university that gives you access to these sites, you are out of luck.

At this point, I feel like the next step is for someone to create a single resource encompassing all search suggestions mentioned as well as links to the Google Guide, how to perform an advanced search and Boolean search tips.  A site that users would know would be reputable and provide all the answers and resources they need.

 

Evaluating Discussion in ID 2 course – SLN Internship #9

October23

I am currently working on evaluating a discussion in the ID 2 course about internet searching skills.  The initial posts were about skills the participants felt were needed to search the internet with integrity and the responses were to 2 classmates regarding using the skills they suggested.  The first matter at hand was figuring out what Google Operators was.  I had no clue!  After looking at the Google Guide for searching, I felt like I have missing out on properly searching for things for years!  The term Boolean came up in the discussions and I wasn’t totally sure what it meant either.  I realized that I was aware of the possibilities of fine tuning searches in this way, but didn’t realize how valuable it could actually be.  I look forward to playing around with my new knowledge and seeing the difference!

In analyzing the initial posts in this discussion, I noted what skills participants felt were needed for internet searching with integrity and the how many times each skill was mentioned by different participants.  I also noted concerns brought up by participants as well as additional resources provided.  In analyzing the responses(which I am halfway thought) I am noting characteristics of responses given as well as if the participants felt the skills their peers suggested worked for them or not.  I am also noting if the participants felt the Google Guide helped or not.  Additional resources that are shared are being noted as well as concerns expressed about a variety of topics related to internet searching with integrity.

This has been a very interesting experience for me so far.  I have learned a lot from the participants contributions and have been surprised at how much I enjoy collecting data in this way(something else I have recently found out I’m good at!).  It is also a very different experience for me to get so “involved” in a discussion that I wasn’t actually involved in.  I look forward to finishing up my data collection, organizing my information, and seeing how it can be helpful and what we can learn from it.

 

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