Evaluation Report

December 13th, 2013 Comments off

Report_CardsThe final evaluation report for EDTECH 505 is listed below.  This report has been taunting me for the entire semester.  I’ve had to jump through many bureaucratic – like hoops as I gained permissions to use the data needed in the evaluation.  Well it’s finally done and I feel pretty good about it.


Evaluation of the Phase II Project

Categories: General Reflection Tags: ,



EDTECH 505 Course Reflection

December 12th, 2013 Comments off

2136954043_b670879bac_oOver the course of this semester, I have read many pages and written many words.  I’ve learned quite a bit as well.  I now have a very fine distinction between research and evaluation.  I have a better grasp on the types of data and how it can be collected.  I think, though, that the most important thing that I have learned is how to create a relationship with the people who are part of the program being evaluated.  I had to reach out to many different people, some quite a bit above me, to get the permissions and data needed.   I had to coordinate and schedule time for agents to participate in focus groups, I had to gain permission to send out surveys and get approval for offline time for those agents to take the surveys. Finally, I had to request permission to access and use the data that the company routinely collects.  It’s all confidential data.  All of the information and data is private data and I had to sign some confidentiality agreements.  I think that emailing and getting permissions and approvals was what took the most time out of any other aspect of the evaluation.  I guess it shouldn’t really surprise me though.  The company that I work for is a multi-national corporation with offices and sites on all of the major continents.  It’s bureaucratic in nature.  The other aspect, that I didn’t anticipate, in this project is that I now have gained the attention of some of the upper level management.  They requested a copy of the evaluation when I complete it.  I’m not sure if they want to see so that they can implement changes or if they just want to make sure I followed procedure, but it still has higher stakes for me now.  The entire process has given me insight as to how to operate in an organization and accomplish the goals that I need to in order to complete and evaluation.  While the attention that I have gained from my superiors kind of makes me nervous, I’m sure that the report will be positively accepted due to, in part, the concepts and procedures that I learned in this course.


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EDTECH 522 Course Reflection

December 11th, 2013 Comments off

elearningThroughout the semester, I have to say that I’ve enjoyed much of the information and activities that I have participated in and completed.  It’s been a rough semester for me on a personal, family, and health level, but it’s been rewarding as well.  I think that I learned the most from the Moodle online lesson assignment.  I’ve always enjoyed creating lessons and a lesson plan, but getting in and choosing instructional resources and designing what could be a whole course was very rewarding for me.  The Moodle lesson allowed me to explore aspects of Moodle that I had never used before.  I also got to discover new resources and software.  It was at this time that I think I finally realized what I would like to focus my career on after graduation.  The Moodle lesson helped me learn about course design and instructional design in an application based method rather than just theory.  Theory alone is interesting and I can learn from it, but I don’t truly understand until I can dig my hands in and practice.  The Moodle lesson allowed me to do just that.

The Rich Media Tutorial also allowed me to gain some valuable practice and learn about software used to create screen recordings.  As a future online teacher, this is invaluable to me.  No only did I get to learn the software, watching all of my classmate’s presentations was a nice learning experience as well.  It was a great way to turn all of us into teachers and to learn from each other.  In my future plans, I plan on using both my skills with Moodle and screen capture software as well as the design principles that I learning in EDTECH 522 to create rich content for my students.  I will be do some field experience in online teaching in the coming spring semester and I now feel even more prepared for that experience.

Ultimately, I’d like to design instructional modules and even deliver some of them.  I feel that many of the things that I learned in this class will help me do that.  I could always tell you if I thought a course was weak or if it didn’t appeal to me, but I could never really tell you why other than through the types of activities it encompassed.  I’ve seen some courses in which the material and activities was great but the course still didn’t have much of an impact on me.  After learning about the design theories I now know why those courses didn’t appeal.  With proper combination of proper aesthetics and functional flow paired with solid instructional content and activities, any course can become a great course.

I want to say thank you to all of my classmates and Dr. Ching.  This course has been invaluable to me and, often, a pleasant and beneficial escape from my job and other life responsibilities.

Categories: General Reflection Tags: ,



Blended Learning and Hybrid Courses

December 11th, 2013 Comments off

Blended learning and hybrid courses fascinate me. When I taught high school, I attempted to implement this type of course for my senior English class. It was a pretty dismal failure. The school was a small school in an agricultural community so the idea of doing work outside of class on a the computer was not something that all of my students could do and the computer lab was not open very long after school let out for the day. My online components involved blogging (I set up blogging software on my course site so students could have some assistance from me if they needed it), jigsaw activities and learning quests. I tried to incorporate web-required research into their research papers as well. Resources were included on the class page too. As I said it was a failure because most students did not have access outside of school. I did provide in-class time to complete the online activities but that did take away from class time. While the in-class time was valuable in the sense that it exposed the students to the technology that they might be using in college, it did defeat the purpose of a hybrid classroom.

After reading the course texts about blended and hybrid learning, it is very apparent that the approach I took was on the right path but I did not have adequate resources or conditions for it to be successful. I do agree with the text that a strong hybrid course does not merely use the web and technology as an optional component but a required component to provide new ways of learning and new methods of face-to-face time. If my future plans ever pan out and I find myself teaching English and writing at the college and university level, I do plan on making use of many of the techniques in discussed in the book. I like the idea of posting lectures and notes online and requiring students to read and become familiar with beforehand. It’s no different that requiring reading to be completed before the next class. This allows for so many opportunities to enrich the content during class when the discussion can get intense and on a level that sometimes isn’t possible with limited time.

I also love the idea of enhancing face-to-face time with tech like tablets, notebooks, and smart phones. Asking students to pull up a website as part of a class discussion and comment on it is great and comments can be accepted after class as well. One idea that really excites me is using social tools during lecture. For example, when I take a synchronous online class or webinar,  there is always a chat going on. It provides a back channel of information that can contribute to the discussion. It allows for students and learners to contribute when they may not otherwise do so if they have to verbally. It provides that digital anonymity that some need. In a face-to-face setting, particularity in a larger class, Twitter can serve as this back-channel. Using #hastags, students could have there tweets seen by the entire class and by the instructor to provide comments and answers via the web during discussion or lecture. The twitter back channel could even be projected onto a screen so students without access could at least view the backchannel.

There are many areas of blended and hybrid education that appeal to me. These are just a few examples of what excites me the most. Blended and hybrid learning are becoming a thing of reality on most college campuses and even many K-12 schools. I had a few of my undergrad courses that were not enhanced by Blackboard, WebCT or Moodle, but as I progressed further into my college career, these classes seemed fewer. In fact the classes that did not have an online component did not hold my interest nearly as long or as efficiently. Educators, teachers and professors need to get on board and get some training so that they can make use of these wonderful tools.

Categories: General Reflection Tags: ,



Module 5 Reflection

December 2nd, 2013 Comments off

This module was fun.  I enjoyed designing the lesson and finding the materials.  I’ve taken EDTECH 521 and 523 already and this is what I really enjoy about the entire online teaching process.  I have installed a Moodle installation on my webhost so that I could become familiar and practice with Moodle.  During this module I really learned a lot of new things about Moodle.  I had to do some troubleshooting since the site pages would take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute to load.  I had theme designer mode on which forces Moodle to not cache anything and severely reduces performance but is useful when designing new themes.

During this module, I had to really delve in and experiment with what works best in Moodle and what looks appealing.  I chose to do something a little differently in Moodle.  I installed my own distribution of Moodle and got to really play around with the administration.  I chose to treat my lesson as a module in a course but instead of the other contents of the course being contained in the same Moodle Course, it would be divided among six different Moodle courses.  I realize that this would not be ideal in a traditional Moodle installation that is actually used by students, but I chose this way since it gave a better aesthetic appeal to the course and better visuals which, I felt, led to a nicer flow through the unit.  I could be wrong of course, but I was experimenting and did have some fun with it.

I think that the most difficult part of designing this lesson was starting.  That’s always my hardest part, but once I get started, things tend to go smoothly.  Like I said, I was having some severe performance related issues with Moodle which were very frustrating, but once they were solved, things zipped along.  I like Moodle’s format and how easy everything blends together.  I’ve used programs like Infinite Campus and PowerSchool and they just don’t have the connectivity of Moodle.  Grade books in Infinite Campus are a nightmare to set up.

Online teaching is the way education is headed.  I really enjoy curating content and sharing it with learners to guide them in a direction of learning and discovery.  It’s one of my passions and this lesson design allowed me to tap that energy.  I really needed the creative spark it has afforded me.  This module is also good experience for me.  I will be undertaking the online teaching internship this spring so that I can get my online teacher certification.  This helped me gain some useful experience that I will be able to take with me into that class.



Screen Writing – Module 2 – The Scene

December 2nd, 2013 Comments off

moodle_screeenThis module was designed in Moodle and created for EDTECH 522.

I chose to do something a little differently in Moodle.  I installed my own distribution of Moodle and got to really play around with the administration.  I chose to treat my lesson as a module in a course but instead of the other contents of the course being contained in the same Moodle Course, it would be divided among six different Moodle courses.  I realize that this would not be ideal in a traditional Moodle installation that is actually used by students, but I chose this way since it gave a better aesthetic appeal to the course and better visuals which, I felt, led to a nicer flow through the unit.  I could be wrong of course, but I was experimenting and did have some fun with it.

Please visit Screen Writing – Module 2 – The Scene on my Moodle Site

Categories: General Reflection Tags: ,



Rich Media Tutorial – Adobe Connect: A Look at Some Convenient Pods for Beginning Hosts

November 4th, 2013 Comments off

Adobe Connect: A Look at Some Convenient Pods for Beginning Hosts from Fabio Cominotti on Vimeo.

I decided to create a tutorial that demonstrates how to use the basic ancillary pods in Adobe Connect.  As an instructor of adult learners online, I use this every day to conduct classroom sessions.  My presentation is called Adobe Connect: A Look at Some Convenient Pods for Beginning Hosts.  I used Adobe Connect.  Since the Adobe server that I use regularly is confidential and owned by my employer, I signed up for a free trial of Connect.  It’s full featured and lasts for thirty days.  I also used Microsoft PowerPoint 2013 to create the slides and CC search to scour the web for creative commons images to use on the slides.  For the actual recording and video production, I used Camtasia.  I really like the simplicity and power of the software.  It also provides a free thirty-day trial.

I created the tutorial by recording my screen and from my webcam simultaneously.  I’ve never done this before and I was very pleased with Camtasia’s built in ability to do this.  I really liked how I could move my video window around when producing the video based upon where on the screen I was.  I produced my movie into an MP$ format and uploaded it to Vimeo (https://vimeo.com/78606236).  I also embedded the Vimeo video here on my learning log blog.  I used a few instructional design principles.  First I made sure that the information on my slides wasn’t overwhelming and outlines what I wanted to get across.  I then expanded on the subjects as I progressed through the slides.  This allowed for dual channel learning.  I also provided visually narrated demonstrations on how to use the various pods in hopes to drive my point home.  I chose to give actual demonstrations rather than simply using screenshots.  Visually, I tried to use design elements like opposing and contrasting colors and avoiding overloading the slides with text.  I feel that the presentation is a visually appealing representation.   I used a number of skills like public speaking, movie editing, and design skills.

I learned the value of practice and preparation.  I started the video about 15 times without any scripts or notes before finally pausing and writing out a script and flowchart with notes about what I wanted to say and when.  I still deviated from the script, but it reduced my nerves and let me remain calm while recording.  This really helped when I recorded the final video so that I didn’t have to do a lot of intensive editing (which I don’t really have the patience for.)   In the future when producing videos, I will take the time to create a script and story-board before attempting any recording.  As, I have some projects at work, demonstrating features of Adobe Connect, this skill will come in handy.


I also posted this to YouTube.

Categories: General Reflection Tags: ,



EDTECH 522 – Online Learning Tools Presentation

October 16th, 2013 Comments off

For a number of years, I’ve been interested in integrating Facebook into classroom activities and education.  It has so many potential uses and advantages.  It can be used in place of a traditional LMS like Moodle and Blackboard.  It has some advantages over those LMSs as well.  The biggest advantage is that it is simpler and intuitive.  Facebook has spent large amounts of money to tailor their interface so that is simple to learn by simply using it.  It is far simpler to use than Moodle (which isn’t all that difficult for the student, but on the instructor end—not as easy) and Blackboard.  Its look and feel are familiar and comfortable for most people since many already have a Facebook account.  That brings up the second major advantage.  Its widespread adoption and use.  There would be virtually no need to spend much time at all teaching students and instructors to use it since they use it already.  There are many already created tutorials published throughout the web about how to use Facebook.  Simple curation and aggregation should be enough to overcome any learning gaps for system use.  Plus the overhead for learning institutions is very low since Facebook creates and maintains the servers and equipment.  There is not need to maintain or hire a staff to monitor the servers and systems.

Facebook can already perform most of the major functions of an LMS and does so in a way that is simple and just makes sense to millions of users worldwide as well as students participating in online courses every semester.  Take a look at my PowerPoint presentation attached to this post for the main points, advantages, and disadvantages.

I’ve also created a sample Facebook Course here called Memoir – Blending the Lines Between What Happened and Imagination .  Feel free to take a look..

Categories: General Reflection Tags: ,



Module 3 Reflection

October 16th, 2013 Comments off
I enjoyed this module.  It gave me the opportunity to look through and revisit many online tools that I’ve been interested in or have used before.  I looked at Twitter, Scoop.it, Diggio, Facebook, Prezi, and Voicethread.  I also delved into Pinterest a little as wells as Edmodo and Learnist.  All of these sites provide services and tools that could be very beneficial to education.  Adults learn differently than adolescents and need to have clear goals.  It helps if the tools are intuitive.  From my experience teaching adults, the more they have to learn to actually use the tools, the more difficult it can be to gain buy in.  I’ve found that most people that I interact with use or are familiar with Facebook.  Even my grandmother uses Facebook.  I decided to spend my time exploring all of Facebook’s many tools and features.  About a year ago I created a group on Facebook hoping to get a writers together to share writing and give feedback.  Well it didn’t work out, but it did give a vehicle to explore the tools that Facebook offers.  It really is impressive.  I started to see many feature that full blown LMSs offer.  File uploads, messaging live and asynchronous chat and discussions.  Video and photo sharing and video calling are all present.  I am really excited.  Facebook offers so many possibilities for adults.


I think that the biggest advantage for adult learners is ease of use and familiarity.  Adults, when in a comfortable place learn better.  Facebook gives them that comfort—that familiarity.  It gives them the tools they need to succeed.



Module 1 Reflection

September 9th, 2013 Comments off

Most of my experience teaching has been to high school students.  My BS is secondary education.  I originally started the MET program looking to advance my teaching methods by incorporating more technology into my traditional classroom and to even move, perhaps, to teach fully online but it was always with high school students in mind.

Well, a couple of huge life changes happened and I found myself in a traditional classroom teaching adults ranging in age from 18-60.  This was a new experience for me.  The whole goal of the teaching was different as well.  I now taught people how to do their jobs.  The curriculum was very specific and goal oriented.  The learners were being paid to be there so the typical high school lack of motivation was largely eliminated.  It was still there with the younger adults, but the problem was quickly eliminated with a threat of getting fired.  Sometimes the threat had to be carried out but it was different for me because I could eliminate the problems and disruptive students.

I also found that the students seemed a bit more motivated because they were learning a task that they were going to be doing for eight hours per day and in most cases the task scared them a little at the beginning.  I changed my focus and started researching about adult learners and what they might need that was different.  This course is part of that research and serving as an elective for me.

Since March, I have transitioned from a traditional classroom to a virtual one and now train students that will work from their own homes taking phone calls for technical support or a major company.  This has been a huge change for me and I can immediately some of the differences here.

I’m going to begin by defining an online course.  It’s simply a course that is delivered online via Internet technology and protocols.  The students do not meet face to face in the same room, although with the use of video conferencing technologies, a virtual face to face meeting can be arranged sometimes.  Online teaching involves many different aspects that are similar to traditional teaching.  The instructor has to play the part of authority (sometimes), subject matter expert, facilitator, coach, and the numerous other roles.  With traditional classrooms all learning is synchronous.  With online education, asynchronous aspects come into play.  Students not only don’t have to meet face to face, but they can also attend and participate at different times.  It can make courses more diverse and the range of experiences of the students more expansive.  It’s an exciting field.  Online education can be done synchronously as well.  The classes that I teach are all synchronous and made possible through the use of Adobe Connect for virtual meetings with audio.

Designing an effective online course can be challenging.  It’s simply not enough to take curriculum designed for traditional classrooms and shove on an LMS.  That will fail.  Group work can be more challenging as well as discussions.  Also, the camaraderie and sense of community that naturally spring into existence is by no means naturally occurring in online environment.  Instructors need to have additional activities at each stage of the course and require specific participation to build the community.  Online learners are behind the digital wall of anonymity and usually will not connect with peers without some bit of coaxing and participation in activities designed for students to get to know each other and bond.  Additionally, instructors have to develop different ways to conduct formative evaluation.  They can’t pick up on body language, blank stares, or vocal tones to surmise if students are “getting it.”  They have to create quizzes, monitor discussion boards, and create assignments designed to gauge understanding.   With my current position being completely synchronous, it’s still imperative to have these activities and little quizzes and polls.  Even though I can hear their voices and they can converse amongst themselves, the digital wall is still there and it takes a little more work to climb it.

Assignments have to be approached differently as well.  Assignments and tasks that are routine in a traditional classroom have to be redesigned.  For example “come and write that on the board” can’t happen in the digital world, so we might use a discussion board with prompts instead.    So I guess, the effective online class would incorporate methods to build community and camaraderie, more formative assessment that does not include observation since observation is not directly possible, and a redesign of curriculum so that the activities, including group work, work and are effective in an online setting.