Archive for September, 2011


Week 4: Community Building

September 21st, 2011 Comments off

CommunityBuildingExercises – FabioCominotti

I joined Classroom 2.0 ( I am very interested in web 2.0 and social networking as it pertains in a classroom whether it is a traditional one or a virtual one.  I believe that these types of technologies offer a tremendous opportunity to educators.  In the traditional setting, it is a way to expand the learning outside of the classroom, give students the opportunities to teach themselves by communication outside of the classroom.  I’ve been seeking away to include Facebook and its groups into my classroom for a while and I think that it could be very useful.  While I didn’t do much social networking while exploring classroom 2.0 (since my account is still pending approval) I did find a wide variety and wealth of information, ideas, and strategies to incorporate into my classroom (online or traditional).  There is a lot of good information here and it seems like a great community that seems to welcome it’s members and new ideas.

Lets face it.  Most students belong to one or more online communities.  They know how to use them and use them often.  Facebook is the most popular—although Google+ may be a contender.  Almost all students will have an increased motivation if their assignment was to log onto Facebook, or a system similar to Facebook to complete an assignment or work on a project.  It also provides students with a way to collaborate on projects, study for exams, peer review each other’s work, or assist each other in real time without the need to physically meet face to face which is not always practical or feasible.  These networks also open the student up to even more assistance and learning opportunities by interacting with community members.  I think that social networks could revolutionize how instruction is designed in both the online and traditional classrooms.


Week 4: Potential Issues to Consider in the Secondary (9-12) Online Classroom

September 21st, 2011 Comments off

Some potential issues that need to be considered and addressed by teachers seeking to build community online are cyber-bullying, confusion, the viewing of inappropriate content and inappropriate online relationships.. While these three issues are not the only ones, I feel that they are important. The high school mindset is unique and challenging for teachers to cope with and interact with in a traditional classroom. When moving to the virtual classroom, teachers need to be even more aware.

Bullying is a problem in all schools. In fact, many schools already have a problem with cyber-bullying even though no classes are offered online. It is much easier to type a flaming mean thought to someone with whom you’ve never met in person. The cyber-wall is a strong one and makes people bolder. Teens have a tendency to be bold anyway and when behind the cyber-wall, it can be even worse. Steps need to be taken to minimize not only the opportunity but the desire to bully. This can be accomplished through strong community building at all levels of instructions.

In a normal classroom, if a student doesn’t understand instructions or some content, he can ask the teacher after class or school or the teacher might notice a puzzled look on his face and pull him aside. In the online classroom, this is not possible. The information is disseminated via computers and videos and therefore makes it more difficult, if not impossible, to see when a student is struggling. Also the teacher is less accessible to the student. Specific and plentiful office hours might alleviate some of this issue. If a student knew when and how to contact a teacher and knew that the teacher would be available, in a live chat for example, then that student would have an easier time seeking assistance.

The presence of predators has always been a problem and pornography and other inappropriate material has always been around, but the online world makes these issues more severe. Predators can log onto a computer and pose as anyone they wish. This makes it easier to lure unsuspecting teens into their traps. The sheer amount of inappropriate material online and its ease of access is truly mind boggling. A person can find anything that they desire. These issues have to be addressed in the online classroom. Instructors need to screen material and websites to make sure that the inadvertent lurid image doesn’t pop up on the screen and only use communication materials that can be directly monitored and controlled by the instructor and staff.

While these three issues are not the only issues that are associated with the online classroom, the certainly are important ones. Appropriate steps need to be taken to insure that these and other issues are minimized and even eliminated if possible. To do this requires extra design time and anticipation of possible issues.


Reflection Module 2: ID Project Needs Assessment, Learning Environment, and Learner Description

September 19th, 2011 Comments off

After reading some of the feedback, I have some more questions and things to think about when it comes to designing my ID project.

I want to ask teachers what treads they see in student achievement.  Basically, I want them to identify what areas that they notice that students seem to struggle with the most.  This will give a bit of a starting point and an area to focus on when it comes to the actual instruction.

I hadn’t thought about it before, but it is true.  Teachers tend to be biased.  If a student does not understand, then the natural assumption is that the issue lies with the student.  It is difficult for teachers, me included, to recognize and take responsibility for the issue.  I might use teacher descriptions of aptitudes to be general rather than specific and only really use it to gauge a range of my learners.

My goal with this project is not to teach students everything to know about citation.  There is, by far, too much information to retain.  The important aspects of my project will be on identifying when to cite, how to introduce the material into the paragraph both grammatically and structurally, and where to look for the proper way to do it.  These are the keys to citation.  I still consult my references, the OWL at Purdue, being a frequent one as well as citation machine.  My goal is to provide them with a skill—knowing when to cite.  The particular rules and styles are not that much of a concern, however, knowing where to look to make sure that the rules are followed is a concern.


Essentials of Netiquette

September 18th, 2011 Comments off

Working in a group with two other classmates, we determined what the essentials of netiquette for online instruction should be.  Later, I adapted the essentials into a presentation, added more resources and created a scavenger hunt for students to complete.  The text is as follows.


Rules for Online Communication within the Digital Classroom

Created by Fabio Cominotti, Brett Crane, and Chioma Umunakwe


Netiquette is an issue that is best decided by the instructor and is inherently dependent upon the situation.  In the classroom, each situation or activity is different and calls for differing levels of formality.  This holds true in the online classroom as well.

The level of formality is also dependent upon the dictates of time.  An activity that takes place on a message board or forum communication is not dependent upon time.  In this asynchronous environment, students have time to carefully consider their words and write with an eye for correct grammar and spelling.  This is, perhaps, the most formal of environments.  

In a synchronous environment like a live chat, time is more of an issue just as in a classroom discussion.  With time being a factor, spelling and grammar errors are to be expected and possibly overlooked.  Just as in oral communication, students do not speak in complete sentences nor with proper and correct grammatical structure.  This should be expected.  Also with time being a factor in a synchronous discussion, emoticons could be a useful way to convey emotion and or tone just as body language does in a face to face discussion.  As such, they might be expected and, unless excessive, overlooked.

Email communication is a bit of a hybrid.  Some forms of email can be asynchronous in nature and therefore allow for a greater formality, but other factors can influence the formality like repeated communication and familiarity as well as urgency in the need to reply.  Email communication is a bit of a hybrid of the two environments, sometimes falling into either category.


The specific rules of netiquette should be the domain of the instructor.  If an activity calls for more formality, then the instructor should communicate these requirements before the activity begins.  Likewise, if it can be successful in a less formal environment, then that should also be communicated by the instructor.

 Regardless of the situation or instructor, the following five rules should be followed in all online communications.

1.    Be respectful of others.

2.    Keep It related to class.

3. Keep it appropriate for school (i.e. no cursing).

4.    Think about what you are saying before posting.

5.    Be honest in what you post.

 Anything beyond these five rules is at the discretion of the instructor.


View the original document in Google Drive

Essentials of Netiquette – I created a lesson in Moodle using these rules.  The lesson includes a Voice-Thread presentation with a PowerPoint presentation, a web resource, and a scavenger hunt for students to complete.


Categories: General Reflection Tags: ,


Module 2: ID Project Needs Assessment, Learning Environment, and Learner Description

September 16th, 2011 Comments off

ID Project Description
After two hours of instruction, high school juniors will be able to accurately create in-text citations and bibliographical citations for selected books, magazines, and other sources in APA format.
1.)The Needs Assessment
In order to conduct a needs assessment for my ID project, I would initially have to use the problem model.  In order to use the problem model for a needs assessment, “someone in management or administration; some member of the constituency, such as parents, clients, or community leaders; or some employees or students [need to] have identified that a problem exists” (Smith and Ragan, 2004). During my time in the classroom, I notice that many students could not properly cite their sources in their formal research and persuasive writing.  This is an important skill to have when entering college or in life as plagiarism is a serious offense.  A problem has been identified—students don’t know how to properly cite sources.  The needs assessment clearly calls for the problem model.
The following steps need to be taken:

  1. I have to determine is there really is a problem or if the students are just no performing for me.
    1. I would do this by conducting an informal survey, possibly online, with other teachers in language arts, history, and the sciences in my district and others to determine if the trend that I have noticed happens in their classrooms as well.
  2. If I determine that there really is a problem, then I must determine if the cause of the problem is related to student achievement in the classroom.
    1. I would take into consideration, whether or not students used proper citations in their writing.  To do this I would use a survey as well conducted concurrently with the previous one as to whether or not students used correct citations.  I might also ask students, through a survey, some general questions pertaining to citations and score their answers based upon their knowledge.
  3. Since there is currently instruction that covers the use of citations in most science and English classrooms, I would move onto the discrepancy model for further assessment.
  4. The discrepancy calls for some data analysis.
    1. A list of desired goals must be prepared
      1. Students will use proper in-text citations for direct quotes.
      2. Students will be able to properly use in-text citations for paraphrased material
      3. Etc.
    2. Next I have to determine how the above goals are already being achieved.
      1. This can be done by analysis of past assignments and teacher surveys.
      2. It can also be achieved through student pre-tests
    3. The gap between what is happening and being achieved and what ought to happen needs to be determined.
      1. Rubrics should be created to measure performance base upon standards.  All students should be held to the rubrics.
      2. Teacher surveys could also be used to identify gaps through the use of similar rubrics
    4. Appropriate priorities need to be established so that instruction developed to close the gaps that are deemed most important.
      1. Teacher surveys could be implemented here.
    5. After determining the gaps and setting priorities, a determination has to be made as to which gaps can be increased through instruction.
      1. This is also done with data analysis, observation, and surveys.

2.) The Learning Environment
The learning environment for my ID project is the traditional brick and mortar classroom.  It consists of a teacher that is competent and knowledgeable in his content area (English) and that the students have a decent rapport with.  The students would be typical 11th grade English students.  The classroom and facilities will include and projector / screen or interactive whiteboard as well as computers for student use either in the classroom of in a computer lab.  The instruction will be delivered via electronic presentations and class discussions as well as various short interactive modules on the computer.  The lessons can be delivered in the computer lab as well as the classroom.

3.)Learner Characteristics
The learner characteristics that are important in my ID project are general aptitudes, prior knowledge, learning styles, and motivation.
I would ask teachers to generally describe their student’s general aptitudes and motivation.
I would conduct surveys of students to determine prior knowledge and pre-conceptions about plagiarism and citation.
I would conduct surveys of student’s learning styles or ask that the teachers conduct these surveys.
I would also conduct surveys designed to determine what motivates students and what their interests are so that some of the instruction can be tailored to those motivations and interests.


Week 3: A Traditional Learning Activity Adapted to the Online Environment

September 13th, 2011 Comments off

I’ve wanted to teach online for quite some time now.  It’s what I’ve been gearing myself for ever since I decided to become a teacher.  I honestly think that it is the way that public and private education is heading right now.  However, I’ve been concerned about student-teacher, and student-student interaction.  The online environment is just not the same.  In the online environment, we do not develop the social skills and the ability to interact with others as completely.  After teaching for a year and doing some extra-curricular activities, one of the aspects of the job that I am fondest of is developing relationships and rapport with my students and watching the student-student relationships develop.  In the online environment, I fear that it may be lost.  As a result of this, I’ve been looking for ways to still teach and conduct classes online and still foster these relationships and rapport.  I feel that various web 2.0 and social networking tools might hold the best solutions.

Now, with that being said, I will describe a brief overview of a means of taking a typical classroom discussion about a novel or reading and moving it into the online realm.

The Traditional Activity

The traditional discussion activity (in my classroom) includes students having read a selection or piece of writing previous to class and then during class time, I would start the discussion with an open ended question and wait for volunteers to respond.  If no one would respond, I would either choose someone or ask the students to write about the question.  The writing would (hopefully) generate ideas and stimulate discussion.  I prefer the Socratic method in these types of discussions.  I do not require students to raise their hands as long as people aren’t talking at the same time.  This hopefully leads the students to other questions and stimulates them to really think about and engage with the writing.  At the end of the discussion, I have a few questions or topics for them to consider in writing for the next day or session.  The topics or questions can be pre-prepared, but if the discussion leads to somewhere interesting, then the writing topic might change.

Changes to the Traditional in an Online Environment

I honestly don’t feel that many changes would need to be made to this activity when converting it from brick and mortar to online.

One change would be that I as the teacher would need to create a Facebook group / page for my class.  This is a relatively simple and painless process.  As part of the beginning activities and during the first week of class, students would be required to create a Facebook account if they don’t have one and join the group.  They would also need to be friends with my profile (one that I created for this purpose rather than my private one).

A time would need to be set when all students would log into Facebook and onto the Group page.  I could track the students that were present since they would be listed in my chat list.

At the specified time, I would post the question as a status update and then the floor would be wide open for students to comment.  Again if no one commented, I would ask a student directly in a comment or ask the class to take about five minutes and write about it.  This will stimulate ideas.

After the discussion is complete, the students will be assigned a topic to write about via a new post and a group message / email.

The main differences would be the technological “middle-man.”  The discussion would, most likely, commence as normal.  It might even make some of the shyer students more likely to participate in the discussion since they are behind the “cyber-barrier.”

Another difference that would be present in the online form of this discussion is the ability for me to track student participation.  It’s difficult to make sure that everyone in a classroom is participating.  Eyes and ears can only take in so much information and not all of that is retained to memory.  With the comment thread being on Facebook, the entire discussion can be revisited and participation can be tracked.  This way, it is not only easier, but fairer to students to base some grades on their participation.

Tools Needed for This Activity to be Successful Online

In order for this activity to be successful online, the medium that the students and teacher communicate in is crucial.  It has to be highly user friendly, intuitive, and quick.  It has to proved as near to real time updating as possible while maintaining the ease of use that is required.  Web 2.0 social networking sites like Facebook and Google+ perhaps provide a good model.  The more I’ve thought about it though, the more I’ve determined that Facebook is not only a good model, but a viable media to actually use.  It provides the instant response feature.  It provides the ability to participate and organize discussions.  It also provides the archiving abilities that would be beneficial for this type of activity.  Students would not have to take notes because the post and all comments would be maintained on the site.  The largest factor that makes Facebook ideal is its wide scale use.  In the school that I taught in, I would estimate that 95% of all students had a Facebook account and that 85% of them used it regularly.  With this wide spread use, Facebook is the best tool to use as opposed to some other proprietary or less known tool / site that has similar functionality.

Scaffolding and Guidance

I don’t think students would need much scaffolding and guidance beyond what they would normally need in a traditional classroom.  However it would much easier to talk to a student in private and provide some feedback or encouragement due to Facebook’s chat feature.  I could communicate with a silent student or a student that seems to be getting angry at other’s postings.  The tool gives me more flexibility to monitor the discussion while providing individualized instruction and guidance to students simultaneously.  Of course, the chat feature also makes it more likely that students might not pay as much attention in “class” since I can’t see that they are “talking” to each other, but let’s face it.  Students are going to talk to each other in any setting.   At least in the online environment, their private discussions are not such a distraction to other students

Of course, if a student was unfamiliar with Facebook or didn’t know how to join a group, some guidance would be needed.  I could prepare a set of videos and instructions on how to accomplish these tasks and even hold a “live” practice session in which I teach students how to interact on Facebook and let them practice the skills as well as practice proper etiquette for this type of activity.

I’ve been planning and designing this activity for a while now, unfortunately, I could not implement it in the traditional classroom. It was not feasible or practical.


Week 2 – Quotes and Thoughts

September 6th, 2011 Comments off

Quotes from Readings and Class Tasks and Activities


Week 2

Knowles (1980) stated that setting up an appropriate learning climate is key to establishing a successful learning experience. He described this climate as one “which causes adults to feel accepted, respected, and supported” with in “an atmosphere which is friendly and informal” (p. 47).
Conrad, Rita-Marie; Donaldson, J. Ana (2011-03-23). Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction (Jossey-Bass Guides to Online Teaching and Learning) (Kindle Locations 866-868). Jossey-Bass. Kindle Edition.(Chapter 5, pg 862 [Kindle Version] Conrad and Donaldson – Engaging the Online Learner)
This is very important for any learning environment and any age group.  If the learner does not feel comfortable and safe (ie. accepted, respected, and supported) learning will be diminished possibly to the point of not occuring.
An effective reflective activity requires students to share a synthesis of the learning experience. Participants should be encouraged to share genuine emotions in a nonthreatening environment.(Chapter 7, pg 1460 [Kindle Version ]Conrad and Donaldson – Engaging the Online Learner)

Reflective activities help the learner furthur process the information and concepts that they “learned.”  However (and this ties into the above entry) reflection is not as effective if it is not shared and will be worth very little if the learner feels threatened by others in the environment or even by the environment itself.  Students and adult learners need to feel safe to express themselves and safe to open themselves to new concepts and viewpoints for effective learning to occur.


Week 2: What Are Best Practices in an Online Environment?

September 6th, 2011 Comments off

The qualities of a successful online environment are similar to a successful traditional environment in many aspects. In the traditional environment, learners have to feel safe and comfortable. They have to feel that they are supported and that they won’t be ridiculed. This holds true for the online environment as well. It is easier for a person to ridicule and “bully” another in an online environment because the “bully” does not have to see the reaction of his victim. If learners in the online environment do not feel safe, then they will not learn. Just with the traditional environment, the learner in the online class has to feel comfortable working with the available tools to complete and submit assignments. In the regular classroom, they need to know where the baskets are and how and when to approach the teacher for assistance. In the online class, they need to know where and how to submit work and when and the best method to approach the teacher. While the delivery and tools may differ between the online environment and the traditional, the concepts are similar. Feeling safe and secure to participate and be open and knowing how to use the tools required of the class are the primary qualities of a successful online environment.

Some of the issues that a teacher must consider that are specific and isolated to an online class are the usability of the medium that is used to deliver instruction, technical issues associated with delivery (i.e. Servers, browsers, platforms) and providing access to the teacher that is useful and relatively easy to make use of. Not all delivery methods are the same. With the web we have many different methods to deliver instruction. Moodle, Facebook, and Web authoring are just some of the examples. All methods have merit for specific purposes. For example, Moodle is a great way to organize and deliver materials as well as give forums for discussion while it may not be the best way to hold a live discussion. Facebook or other types of social networking software might be better to hold that live discussion. Sometimes it might just be best to create a web page using XHTML / CSS. The online teacher must anticipate the best medium to achieve the goals that he wants. Also the online teacher must plan for and anticipate technological failures on his end at least. When teacher is absent from the classroom, procedures are in place to get a substitute to deliver instruction for the day. When the online environment has technical issues, there must be procedures in place to deal with that failure. These procedures could be redundancies, backup sites, etc. It doesn’t matter what they are as long as they are effective and in place. A regular classroom teacher is available in the classroom in-between classes, before and after school, and often during regular class time to assist students and answer questions. The online teacher does not have this type of access to students. The online teacher must anticipate the needs of students and provide adequate times and methods to assist students and answer questions. This can be via email, specified office hours for chat, video conferencing, or phone calls, or even text messaging. Whatever the methods, they have to communicated to students so that students know when and where to get help.

The most successful students in an online environment are ones that can manage their time well, maintain discipline to do the required work in a timely fashion, and those that work well by themselves. While this type of student will be successful, it is our job as the teacher to ensure that all students are successful. In order to do this, we need to incorporate more structure into the course so that those students who don’t manage their time well will get assignments done. This means breaking projects up into smaller pieces and setting deadlines for those smaller pieces just like we would in the normal classroom. We also have to force (for lack of a better term) group discussion and participation. We must require a certain number of responses to postings in the online class whereas in the normal classroom, we are there to bring silent and quiet students into the discussion through guidance. In the online class we do not have this ability. We must ensure that all students are reading the posts and adding their own thoughts and opinions.


Module 1: Design, Systematic, and Educational Technology.

September 2nd, 2011 Comments off

1.) What do you think the word “design” implies? What does “instructional design” means to you? How does the meaning change when adding the word “systematic” in front of “instructional design”?
The word design implies a plan or strategy.  Design does not happen by accident or chance.  Design implies consideration and planning.  For example an interior designer looks at a room, chooses colors and then chooses furniture, paint, wall hangings, paintings, and other decorations to present a mood in the room.  In essence they design the room to induce a particular feeling or emotion.  In this case and in other cases design indicates planning and forethought about how all items and components tie into the whole.
The term instructional design, to me means design of instruction for a classroom or other training environment.  It is the application of all aspects of design to the task of creating an instructional unit / lesson / goal.  It is planning instructional components to and tools to produce a specific learning outcome.  For example a corporation that employs a customer service department has to plan and design the curriculum for training of its agents.  This is instructional design.
Systematic instructional design is the design of instructional or teaching materials into a cohesive plan that is done so with a model in mind.  Each component meets the needs of a specific component of a particular model.  It is systematic because it follows a system or model.  The systematic approach guarantees that the instructional materials that and plans adhere to a specific learning outcome or goal.

2.) In your opinion, how does Instructional Design relate to Educational Technology?
Instructional design relates to educational technology in the fact that technology use in an educational environment or education through the use of technology (i.e. online classrooms) cannot just be thrown in.  It has to undergo planning and integration.  Without the planning and design process, the technology can often distract and interfere with learning.  It is through sound instructional design and learning goals that technology can be successfully integrated into an educational environment.  Without careful planning, technology can be an explosive component or have undesired results.
3.) Share your own experiences to illustrate your point(s) above. When you share your experiences, be sure to describe the process you use to design or create learning experiences for others. It does not need to be in formal learning environments such as schools or professional development courses.
I only have a brief year of teaching experience currently, but during that year, I attempted to integrate more technology into my daily lessons and units so that my students would be better prepared for the technology that they would be expected to use in college and the workplace.  I made several tools available, but did not adequately teach the students how to use them right away and as a result most students did not use them.  After I realized this, I took some class time and helped the students practice using these tools and showed them the value that the tools provided.  This was a case when better planning and design in the early stages of the semester would have benefited not only my students but me as well.  My students would have had an easier time completing their assignments and I would have had an easier time delivering content to them.  I found that a well planned unit that involved an internet scavenger hunt and web quest was better received and more useful to my students.  During the planning process, I attempted to anticipate any issues that might arise for my students and tried to provide tools and proper links that would assist them in finding the correct solutions on their own.  To a large part, these types of projects proved more successful than just providing tools via technology.
4.) Share a short description of the topic you plan to work on for the required Instructional Design project in this course.
Instructional Design Project:
Rationale – During my time in the classroom, I notice that many students could not properly cite their sources in their formal research and persuasive writing.  This is an important skill to have when entering college or in life as plagiarism is a serious offense.
“After two hours of instruction, high school juniors will be able to accurately create in-text citations and bibliographical citations for selected books, magazines, and other sources in MLA and APA format”