Comments by Commenter

  • Alaha Ahrar

    • I think this a brilliant idea to teach such a productive class both online and also as a face to face class at the University of Mary Washington. This class covers very important philosophical, social and political  materials. However,  some students cannot take it because of different types of obligations that they have such as not being able to pay for summer housing or space, traveling inside or outside the USA or being with  families .

      therefore, I believe this method of teaching will provide an equal opportunity to all those students, who need or are interested in taking this class.  


    • I do agree with every aspect of conducting this class.  I am sure, there are many students interested in taking this class.  I think there should be some extra space available for them. Otherwise, they should have to wait for it until, it is offered for the next time.  That will discourage some students and instead they may take some other class that they are not interested in taking it at all. Thus, they will miss a very informative, productive and useful class.  Or if they wait for this class, then they will graduate a semester or sometimes even a year later. 

    • I strongly support this course because it discourages isolation but it encourages interaction and community services; meanwhile it gives  students enough time to do their course activities and assignments. I think this method of teaching will make it one of the most interesting and effective classes



    •  I strongly agree with the theory of teaching this class both online and as a face to face class.
      The content of this class is very essential and useful for the majors of Philosophy Department and also for all  those students who are interested in taking this class. Furthermore, since it is the century of advancement of technology and information, I think it is a brilliant idea to create online classes for the students of Mary Washington University.

  • Alan Heffner

  • Alan Levine

    • Since you will be using VoiceThread, you might look at something like this teacher did with having a prompt for students to reply in voice or video…. This be feel more personal than just a photo

      Also, for the small meetings, Google Hangouts would be effective, especially when you can use its features for screen sharing and document editing.

    • Maybe it is not inherent in this document, this course seems to be missing the hook of people’s interest in the environment… I would start with something locally or regionally relevant as a policy issue students would identify with. Or a story of where policy implementation went poorly.

    • Im not too sure how you encourage “thoughtful discussions” without being heavy handed as a moderator.

    • There are not any places in here where the idea of including outside experts or opinions. The Internet provides this capability. Why not include that as a component of the wiki work?

      Student writing makes drastic positive leaps when they understand they are writing for an audience larger than their instructor or their class.

    • VoiceThread does not do this on its own…. iit is just as easy to create dull sideshows there as any other tool.

    • Again, the power of the tool is other voices. This is another place to consider, say getting members of the local community, or maybe another class at a different location, to provide feedback.

      Imagine using VoiceThread as a community input tool?.

    • The introduction mentions students using “multimedia tools of their choice” but here it is specified as Google Docs.

      I would think the final product done as a YouTube video would be better, more effective than a presentation… There are plenty of environmental policy or lobbying related videos.

      In fact, doing a piece of media seems limited, considering the potential impact of social media– I’d consider a part of their project be to develop a social media strategy – I would recommend researching the resources created by Beth Kanter (google her)

    • Given the impact of social media in the last few years on all types of issues, I’d like to see an objective related to effectively using social media for outreach and generating interest in policy issues.

    • It would help me as a reader to have an example of what a local issue is. Will students pick one? Will it be assigned?

    • This course would seem ripe for a teaching approach around Challenge Based Learning http://challengebasedlearning.org where students would have more responsibility on the projects they work on, and are inherently more locally of interest.

    • To be honest, this wiki feels like a worksheet, and as a student I would feel prompted to write cut and paste responses.

      On approach to give students more ownership might be for them in groups to create their own wiki, or blog publishing space.

      Or another approach would be to develop some case examples and make a wiki based site that is missing key information, or has wrong or poor information, e.g as a policy that is not well developed, and charge students with doing the research and development to improve it.

      Also, just by having an openi web site does not mean anyone will find it; there should be some consideration as to how you will get people to respond (e.g arrange to have peers in the field visit, or government officials)– invite the world to your web site.

    • Ok, here is wher outside persons are mentioned- who will be in this Congress? What is their role??

    • Just working together or existing in the same virtual space does not on it’s own build community. What are the shared values, interests? Perhaps some mechanisms for students to be directly supporting each other, peer feedback

    • Or probe as to what these orders mean to local communities, or what is missing from the orders. I like that it’s a local issue, but would like it to made more personal.

    • Or one could have them engage in pro/con debates, or argue both sides of the issues

    • Again, I would encourage consideration of group meetings/discussions in google hangout, especially to be able to use screen sharing and shared document editing

    • What would also be useful in these subjects are activities aimed at understanding and use of maps, in terms of where these policies impact us, and the relationships of populations and habitats. For example, the BBC Dimensions projects helps put things like oil spills and floods in perspective by allowing their areas to be superimposed on any part of a google map.

      There are also a lot of thingsthst might be done as assignments in Googke Earth, from exploring panoramas to editing new content layers.

      Maps and a good understanding of the ways they can communicate information (well and not well) would be important here.

    • It would also seem useful to build activities around data sources (for use in developing and supporting policy) as well as forms of data visualization. This could involve researching data related to an issue, and using online tools for analyzing, displaying — from as ordinary as charting in google spreadsheets, to mobile apps like Roambi, to gap under, IBM many eyes

      Or maybe there could be an assigment aimed towards building or critiquing infographics

    • I like the use of a movie, assignments could extended to other movies, e.g. Erin Brokovich.

    • Looking at this content is not really active learning, but it is outlined better below. It would be worthy to see more that involves communicating with government representatives, or the public.

      Maybe there is something can be done with public misconceptions in discussion forums or newspaper site contents, twitter.

    • URL has an extraneous space on the end

    • I am not seeing how explaining regulations, e.g. writing them in a wiki translates as active learning nor how the assignment encourages deeper understanding.

      I’d like to see something where students are creating some media or designing a public campaign that shows their understanding. Or a video of them explaining it to a community member or family member, and checking their understanding. Or designing a survey to gather understanding pre-post some outtreach campaign.

    • Active learning needs to have the students actually do something with this information, not sending them to web sites to look at content. What can they be challenged to create, analyze, interpret from these sources?

    • I like the audio reflection at the end; it might be worthwhile for the start of their project for students to record an audio where they outline their entering understanding of the issue, and this way they can have a means at the end to gauge their own progress in learning about the issue.

    • I like the idea of funding as a means of peer evaluating; what sorts of criteria are there for the funding decisions? A fixed budget? Implications for not funding? A structure of partial funding? There should be some sort of rationale writing done for the funding.

      Or maybe there could be a scenari of some sort of news show, so the funders can be interviewed at the end to explain their decisions.

    • The reflection is meaningful if there is some sort or way to connect the ability to implement or not the policies has some sort of impact scenario (e.g. what happens if the policy is not implemented? How does it affect communities, businesses, standards of living?)

    • I am not clear what this motivation is to post to the discussion board or wiki beyond it being an assignment. What is a fallback plan if there is not activity?

      Can the activities be built more around some rule based scenarios? e.g. what happens if there is not student activity, can there be some introduced story (a natural disaster, a political situation?).

    • I am not clear how the knowledge of science being applied is done here. Reading case studies is not a means of understanding the science. I do not know enough about the field to suggest where/how can this happen. Is it some questioning of methodology? Is it looking for cases of false correlation or mistaking correlation and causation? Is it an understanding of validation? Limits of the experimental method? I am not sure.

    • But there needs to be some structure loop back on understanding. Is it building consensus? is it getting external validation? The self-directed aspects are just wide open here. What are the criteria fo a “good response”?

    • Already said elsewhere, but it seems that social media seems so important now in government and public works, that it should be integrated in a much larger way.

      Not only the “outward” mode of posting to places, but the key skills of being able to listen in social media — e.g. how to monitor public opinion, how to track how people feel or even know about issues, knowing where people are getting their information.

    • More work needed here on community building; this is a field of dreams approach, if we build a discussion area/wiki and call it community, they will come.

  • alanliddell

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 22nd, 2011

      IIRC, the tutorial thing (by the for-credit kids, at least) fell by the wayside during the summer course. I don’t remember if I ever even did a single one. I like the idea of this class as focusing on narrative, and instruction can be a narrative. Maybe tutorial should be a separate class of assignment?

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 22nd, 2011

      It wasn’t particularly clear (at least to me) why we had the Gardner Campbell talk and how that directly related to digital storytelling qua digital storytelling. Part of the class is community, but a community can of course be had in any environment. Blackboard, for example. It’s hinted at quite a bit here but never expressly said: This isn’t just for some select group. This is for everybody. The stories you tell, the art you make (dammit) will be for the ENTIRE WORLD to come and see. That differentiates this class from just about any other class here at UMW with some online component. Lots of classes make you blog on UMW Blogs, but that carries with it a qualifier that says “for school purposes,” whereas out on the wilder web you can’t help but come across non-DS106 types. You might have to make that explicit for the kids who don’t get it until six months after the course is over.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 22nd, 2011

      By final project do you mean building some kind of world through disparate media, or some kind of collection of media that is somehow themed? Or do you mean something that’s just big? I think either could be valid.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 22nd, 2011

      Interestingly, the Wikipedia article is itself an example of a course objective, if you think of it as something spontaneously generated from the ground up.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 22nd, 2011

      This is where I think the Daily Shoot performed really well, since it took something that we all know how to do – take pictures – and demanded a more artistic approach, and also required that you publish it on the web. Taking a picture of you and your friends and posting it on Facebook is leagues away from turning the idea of heat into a beautiful photograph. And since the course began with that it eased the students into the rest of it.

  • Andi

    • These look measurable and clear to me.

    • I think this is a great point. Particularly for a course focusing on social and political philosophy, adapting to the needs of students who may need the summer to do other things is laudable. I think this may also provide for new/interesting points from the students since they will likely be away from campus.

    • This looks great to me. One question: you don’t specify here or anywhere else in the syllabus how the discussion will be administered. Is it going to be one course blogs? Multiple blogs that link to the course site? Something else? If you use blogs, are you going to use tagging/categories or just entries?

      I ask this because while your proposal is very detailed, it doesn’t include anything about the technology you’re going to use. Since the different options have different strengths/weaknesses, I think adding that in would be helpful.

    • This may be completely stupid, but have you considered having the students write in an epistolary format? That may engender more back and forth than a traditional paper format.

    • I understand that you’re trying to give complete answers to these (somewhat repetitive) segment questions, but I’m finding the repetition confusing. Could you just focus in on the specifics for each point rather than repeating?

    • Again, I think your argument for an asynchronous internet -based course is very convincing, particularly considering your subject matter.

    • I would like a little information regarding the format with which students can provide feedback for each other.

      In terms of completing the objective, I think your approach is dead on: the students get a chance to study what they find most interesting, but are still part of a community.

    • Again, the topic of the course I think makes this very feasible in the proposed format. The course will intrinsically ask for students’ opinions, and for them to support said opinions.

  • Angela Pitts

    • Have you considered using VoiceThread, which very easily allows for voice-over commenting (by you and by students, if desirable)?  It is possible to upload powerpoint slides into VoiceThread, or one can simply upload an image.

    • I echo the sentiments of both comments above.  Particularly in a 100-level, introductory course, the use of GIS-based engines which allow students to see monuments and other objects in “real” time will perhaps encourage the consideration of them as more meaningful in their own lives.

    • VoiceThread also allows:

      textual comment
      doodling over images (say, circling an important feature of a painting that students might have overlooked)
      easy sharing technology
      can be easily incorporated into Canvas through a shared link

    • The assignments and exams seem to me to be appropriate, but the content delivery and discussion seems, as far as I can determine from the syllabus, to be one-way–that is, instructor to student–or other sources directed by the instructor to student.  In an on-line course, it may be quite difficult for students to have the experience of being in a learning community unless the instructor builds into the course opportunities for students to engage with each other. I would encourage Joe to consider incorporating small assignments that do so. Again–VoiceThread may be a very nice option, because the instructor can post an image, voice-comment on the image, and ask students to post comments pertaining to the image and to each other’s comments.

    • I have used Canvas in a Blended Learning course and found it to be a useful mechanism by which to organize and distribute information and resources and have students share resources that they source and/or generate as assignments.

      I am curious to hear more about how you will structure on-line exams, since they are weighted so heavily and–as another commentator suggests–so easily cheated on.

    • How will these other activities (word-press, video conferencing, etc.) be formally structured into the course so that students actually take advantage of them?  Increased dialogue from all participants of the course will probably result in a finer intellectual experience for all.   Student/student interaction is valuable, too, particularly in an on-line environment.

    • I appreciate the spirit of discovery that the instructor wishes to inculcate into his students by encouraging student participation in the dissemination of resources.  Will these student-posted resources be commented on by you so as to help students negotiate between good, bad and mediocre and merely sensation sources?

    • I’ve not tried EtherPad, but you are inspiring me to do  so!!


    • This assignment seems to me to have sound pedagogical value.  Informal, personalized writing is a meaningful gateway to deeper understanding and appreciation and to deepened writing skills.

    • The idea of using the questionnaire as a journal prompt is a really interesting one.  It would be a really nice outcomes assessment tool, as well.  What kinds of questions would the questionnaires ask?  And, how will students be encouraged to reflect on the process of learning and on how their perceptions have been transformed?  Will the students be encouraged to reflect on these cognitive and personal developments in their journals?  And, how will the questionnaires provide staging for such reflections? I’m quite curious because I quite love the idea of such questionnaires.

    • This sounds like a really excellent course, which wants but a few tweaks to ensure student success, empowerment and transformation in an on-line environment.  The largest of these tweaks, in my view, would involve structuring into the course interaction between students so that the students do not experience isolation, but enter into a learning community that is inspired and prompted by the instructor, but which eventually takes on a life of its own through intellectual interaction amongst each other.

      That said, I believe it will be a fine course.  Its learning objectives are sound and appropriate.  The assignments are creative, interesting and inspiring.

      Good luck!!!!

    • Professor Och’s proposal suggests to me an ambitious curriculum with ample opportunity for students to interact with the material and with each other as they reflect on the relevance of art as social, historical, and cultural sites of mediation, communication, and contestation. Overall, I support the proposal; there do seem to me to be a lot of elements that Prof. Och will have to seamlessly weave together, but if anyone can do it, it is she!

    • I believe this course will assist students in becoming (if they aren’t already) engaged with art as a life-practice.

    • I’d be more interested to hear about how LO #5 will be accomplished. My sense is that it will be student-driven, as students produce Voice Thread presentations and Blog posts about works of art that interest them. But, is there a formal way that goal #5 will be addressed by Prof. Och’s framing of the content?

    • Good idea as a way to assess (and encourage) students’ mastery of information, so that the instructor can focus on assessing student engagement and apprehension of conceptual relationships.

    • I think Kelly put her finger on why my initial thinking is that the course seems a bit over-ambitious. It’s not so much the goals themselves that seem so to me, but rather the competing claims for ‘content authority’ (is it the instructor? the textbook? the student-generated discussions via Voice Thread and Blog)? I’m not quite clear what ‘content authority’ holds as the gravitational center. I’m sure Prof. Och can work that out, because her ideas for the course are fantastic. I would encourage her, however, to think about all the elements of the course that the student will be involved in and have to keep track of. The assignments all feed into each other nicely (at least conceptually), but is the institution of all of them practicable, particularly in a summer session? If so, what is the predominant authority for the course?

    • Really nice idea!! Helps students to engage with each other as they access what they know intuitively about art, even if they know very little about the formal conventions and history of art.

    • I very much like the ring-composition as an opportunity to reflect on ways in which their appreciation of and approach to art has become more nuanced and sophisticated. I also like that it provides an opportunity for students to measure subjectively what they have gained from the course-experience.

    • In addition to the excellent suggestions already made, I would encourage Prof. Och to “set the tone” (in her words) by involving a fair amount of interaction in the first meeting, since a fair portion of students’ involvement in the course will be community-style.

    • If I read correctly on the syllabus word-document, participation in the course was weighted at about 10%, while each of the two exams was weighted at much higher figures (30% and 35%, if I recall correctly). THIS on-line iteration of the course seems to elevate the value of interactive learning, reflection, and self-directed learning. Prof. Och might wish to consider re-weighting the grade-distribution to reflect the added emphasis of the latter.

    • Nice idea. Will you generate the posts and start discussions with questions to which students can respond using the “comment” submission? Or, will students generate the posts? I, personally, have found that a blend of the two works nicely, because the instructor provides a model for the kind, nature, and sophistication of content that appears in posts. However Prof. Ochs elects to manage the blog, I think it should be made clear how much emphasis blog posting or commenting will be given in the course. Again, there are a lot of competing media and applications in play in the course, and I don’t have a clear idea of where Prof. Ochs would like her students to gravitate the greatest part of their focus. Excellent ideas–just want a bit of fleshing out in terms of the practical application in the course.

    • When and in what learning module would this occur? Are the students generating the “written and spoken comments,” and would this occur during the weekly on-line discussions or during course assessment?

    • This is an individual assignment rather than a group assignment? What weight will you give it in terms of grade-distribution?

    • I really appreciate how historically contextualized this course is, offering students the opportunity to explore the riches of out-of-date publications of un-anthologized original poetry from its original publication context.

    • Learning Objectives explicit, clear and manageable.

    • The only minor adjustment to the Learning Objectives that I would suggest refers to the final LO, “mastery of various digital tools….”.  The word “mastery” is quite heavy, particularly given the range of digital tools that are to be employed in this five week course.  I think it would be quite burdensome on the instructor to ensure that students who pass the course have developed such a high level of competency as “mastery” suggests.  Perhaps “increased fluency” or “familiarity with”?

    • My sense is that these will be really solid core tools for accomplishing the course objectives.

    • This is such an exciting outcome of the course; would it be worthwhile to note in the Learning Objectives that one of the outcomes of the course includes students’ entry into the scholarly dialogue?

    • I applaud Jody’s thoughtful suggestion.

    • To my mind, the syllabus more than lives up to the Learning Objectives and Liberal Arts Values articulated by Mara’s proposal.  Each activity is grounded in a unique intellectual experience, and each week’s work uncovers a layer of conceptual stratigraphy necessary for the next stage of development.  Active learning is truly at the gravitational center, so much so that students are not only entering into critical scholarly dialogues, they may very well help to shape it.  I would love to take this course!!

    • A very impressive, well-thought out course.

  • Becky

    • I don’t know if it’s as important in this section to detail that this course is a requirement for different majors. Instead, I like Steve’s suggestion about using this to further describe what students can expect from the course.

    • I agree with both Wendy and Steve that the learning objectives are flimsy, with no clear way of evaluating if students who have completed this course will have successfully met these goals. They’ve already stated this, but how do you define and educated person and any economist?

    • Why would the face-to-face course and online one not have the same assignments? What would be the reason(s) they can’t have everything the face-to-face class will?

    • One thing I specifically liked about the face-to-face class was Professor Greenlaw were perfectly willing to sit on the desk and stare patiently at the class until someone volunteered an answer. He never gave answers away easily, and that made the classes so much more valuable because it forced students to take the time to figure out problems themselves. I’m not sure the online version of this course, with the discussion board alone, will be able to mimic that atmosphere enough, especially since the timing of people reading others responses or posting their own will be difficult to overcome. I haven’t come across any mention of timing for this, so is there anything in place such as deadlines or certain mandatory online meeting times… to make students get something similar to that experience? (It may be further down the proposal and I haven’t seen it yet.)

    • This part is excellent, bringing in other colleagues to have more than one person getting the students to interact and think in different ways!

    • Another site that was particularly good with interactions for people who may never meet each other face to face was https://umw.voicethread.com/.
      It is a great way for students to respond to their classmates in a variety of styles (text, video, voice recordings, images…). It would further encourage community within the class, instead of just having X amount of intro videos everyone quickly watches and forgets, if they even bother to watch at all. Maybe requiring people to somehow respond to the videos will make sure they watch and get to know their classmates.

    • One of the reasons for those students taking this course may be to free up time they would have otherwise spent tied down in a classroom. While I like this idea that encourages a better amount of interactions, what about those who may leave campus or go somewhere with no internet access? (not everyone has a smartphone) Should this class participation be semi-daily instead, since very few regular f2f courses even meet every day?

    • Really like the idea of sharing good work, either to inspire students or to help those that read it understand how they could have improved their own!

    • If no one responds to other students’ questions and both the question poser and the classmates get used to the Prof. eventually answering them by the next day, how does that encourage other students to step up? It seems too easy for students to sit back and only check in on conversations without playing an active role themselves.

    • Very smart to only pick one media outlet, otherwise there would be too much to follow or check, and the class would become harder to keep up with.

    • I really like that quantitative approach you suggest. It gives students the opportunity to look back and see exactly how this course has shaped their thinking.

  • Bryan Alexander

  • chiggins

    • I believe that the quizzes are a great idea to get students involved with the text. I know many students that wait until the last minute to look up something before an exam but these quizzes will encourage them to take a look much earlier and more often.

    • For me, this course needs an instructor-based learning style. Because most students will not have much to base the information on before they take the class, the instructor is vital. art history texts can be dull and for some students unbearable to read so an instructor’s involvement will be important. I believe that Professor Och understands this and plans to interact with the students but I think a textbook based curriculum might be hard, especially online.

      I also want to note, students tend to think they are doing better than they actually are doing. (I can speak from experience here…) I think this section needs to be detailed more for how they will gauge themselves.

    • I think this is a great assignment and I want to participate! I think it will be a great way to make sure the students are gaining a personal understanding to art.

    • I am confused by this assignment some. Will this be the same work that they posted a picture of in the q&a? This seem similar in some ways to that general introduction.

    • Something that can be utilized for students who can not go to a museum are online projects like the art project by google. I believe letting them know of resources like this will encourage students to look beyond just the class assignments.

    • I think individual assignments are important to have especially because there seems to be so many group products. It gives the student a chance to shine on their own.

      I do believe that the grades need to reflect how much the students are doing with all these projects. The scale seems to still be focused on tests. The students will be working a good deal on other projects and that participation should perhaps be graded more heavily.

    • This class sounds wonderful. Being an art history student, I know that there are many students in these introductory courses that do not have a great appreciation for the arts and I believe Professor Och can change this with this online course. This seems to be a very ambitious course, especially online. But I know that Professor Och will produce great work and help her students to do the same.

      There are a lot of elements and assignments to this class that I believe might need to be better detailed. There seems to be a lot of steps that the students need to take with a lot of interaction. It might perhaps come off a quite daunting task for a lot of them and perhaps the weight of the grades needs to be changed to fit all of the projects. I do believe that using a lot of the sources that are discussed here (Voice Thread,conversation blogs, etc.) will help them organize and produce their work. I support this proposal and I believe that this is a class that is necessary to be offered in an online setting.

  • Chuck Whipkey

    • I think the focus of the course has changed since the instructor changed a few years ago. Perhaps the title and course description should be updated to reflect the way it is currently taught.

    • I think it depends on how it is handled. A great deal can be learned by probing links and researching answers to questions, whether or not they are presented in the context of a PPT

    • Maybe I can be a bit of a contrarian here. Some websites can be a morass of links to endless streams of information, and it is easy to get lost in obscure details. Basic information provided by the instructor regarding the history, nature, and purpose of, to use your example, the Clean Air Act, could allow the student to be more grounded and confident in exploring the agency websites.

    • Of course what students may find is that science is sometimes disregarded in the creating of regulations.

  • crystal wedding shoes

  • Dave

    • The course’s learning objectives may be approved by the department and not something that can be modified by the individual instructor.

    • This could be useful but I’m not clear as to specifically what these blogs will include and how they relate to the specifics of the learning objectives.

    • A worthwhile goal but hard to assess from just a list of possible tools.

    • The fact this begins the first week of class is great. It sets the stage for expectations throughout the rest of the course and educates the students early on the technology.

    • This reflection seems more like the “self-directed learning” value or the “reflection” value more than building a community.

    • Graduate students and/or an excellent classroom rapport can make this peer feedback very useful but I think it is a hit or miss game. What technology is used for peer editing? How does the faculty member see/evaluate this interaction?

    • Best idea so far is the building of the school: it is specific and the technology appropriate for the project.

    • Does active learning mean students share stuff with each other? Can learning be active without such direct interaction? What does active learning foster? Is doing self-directed research qualify as active learning?

    • A debate can be fostered on any discussion forum tool – including the one on Canvas. You may want to use what the students are used to rather than have the students learn one more new tool.

    • How is reflection measured or observed to occur? Does reflection mean to publicly relate associations formed between facts and/or ideas and what is currently being addressed in the course? Is it the student’s personal assessment of her achievements and growth or reflections on the ideas and theories related to the course? Either are valid and important.

    • Reflection is that moment for students to either see their progress or focus on their understanding and application of course content. How do weekly announcements/weekly summaries from the instructor tie into this value?

    • I saw more of this self-directed learning value in the videos, blogs, and discussion forums and they aren’t listed here or in detail. Those items/ tools allow students to access information and personal feedback at their own pace of need and want which is very valuable in self-directed learning.

    • Not every learning objective fits each of these five values and shouldn’t fit each value. For example, developing a personal philosophy is self-directed, but a group project building the school is not and is great in community building. Also, each learning objective needs to be matched with both a “tool” to deliver or facilitate the action and the evaluation of the student with each project/assignment. This is one way to make sure the tool chosen is the right one for the action when there are several that might work.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 16th, 2012

      At first I give them statistics and provide sources for them to look up. For example, one source claims that the average age of widowhood is 47. Then teams of two students go look to support or refute the statistic. There are about 12 teams depending on class size. After another such assignment, they must find such controversial or questionable statistics and do their research. All material is posted on Google docs.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 16th, 2012

      Very good point about Excel. The positive side is that it is free and easily available to everyone. Since Steve told my my class is to be completely online I thought the access to SPSS problematic. I too have looked into R and several others online and haven’t honestly had time to properly assess them.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 16th, 2012

      Very good point. My decision to use Excel comes from the notice from Greenlaw that this course is to be completely online rather than blended. I thought in this light that access to SPSS problematic.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 16th, 2012

      The supplemental part if i understand your comment, is the set of practice exams that are given online using a program called iSpring. The software randomly selects from a bank of questions a subset of questions which the students must answer using any means they need such as their book, notes, etc. The point here is to get them “doing” statistics since over the years I’ve found pure lecture a waste of time. Students may take the practice quizzes many times and must achieve 80% or above to get one point for a possible total of 13 which works out to be 13% of their grade.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 16th, 2012

      See comment to Kolar. Since this was designated a completely online course i thought access to SPSS problematic. Excel is free and widely available.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 16th, 2012

      It has been designated 100% online.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 16th, 2012

      Very good point. My only thought is that there is already lots to do and statistics is not easy for students since there is not much to tie the concepts to: homogeneity of variance – not there’s an intuitive concept!

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 16th, 2012

      Life’s tough.
      Point well taken.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 16th, 2012

      Very good point. Certain topics (maybe all) require practice practice practice.

  • Dave Henderson

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 5th, 2013

      Could you elaborate on the course description? If I were taking this class, I’d be interested in having a few more details.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 5th, 2013

      Ok, I think these make sense. Should you elaborate on the definitions of these values? I’m not sure you need to since the definitons are provided in another document on the OLI website, but it may be useful to include the definitions here as well.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 5th, 2013

      This sounds interesting. What is the rationale for using a different online environment than Canvas? It seems like using Canvas may remove any issues regarding security (I’m thinking of this from the online course proposal authorization form).

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 5th, 2013

      How will you evaluate writing skills? You might want to include a grading rubric. Also, I wonder if it would be useful, given the amount of writing in this course, for the students to read a short book on writing. For example, “The Elements of Style” or “Economical Writing”.

  • David

    • I think posting example videos through Jing as well as holding online office hours will be very beneficial for the students. For me personally, I am an extremely visual learner. Being able to see an example worked out first hand will be very useful for students trying to understand and conceptualize the material.

    • If possible, I would look into another way to submit quizzes, than photocopying or scanning. I could potentially see a problem with the clarity of the work they are sending in, because from my experience pencil does not show up too well on a scanner or copier.

    • I would look into another way to submit the quizzes. I could potentially see an issue arising with photocopying or scanning the work. In my experience pencil does not show up well when scanned and could lead to some problems with grading.

    • I think this is a great idea. Taking an online class many students feel isolated; however I feel with these assignments it can make the community of the class stronger and possibly also be a tool for forming study groups.

    • I agree with Jeff Edmunds comment about having the students respond to others modules. By having to explain their results to others it will make the student process and understand their data, as opposed to just entering multiple commands and regurgitate their results.

    • Again I feel this is a great idea. As a student, I feel that feed back from the professor is necessary to understand where I stand in understanding the material. I also like the idea of providing a collection of responses, because many students learn from other student’s questions and this is possibly a way to provide that same opportunity in an online setting.

    • I agree with Jeff’s comments. More than just memorizing the correct formula to use is necessary to understand statistics.

    • I agree with Jeff’s comment. More than just memorizing which formula to use is necessary to understand statistics.

    • I like that you are involving critical thinking skills into your course. Problem solving is a skill that can be applied to any field.

    • I like this. It is brief and straight to the point

    • Overall I think you did a great job in making this course. As a student I am glad that you are incorporating a way for other students to be able to communicate and work with each other. Personally, I work and learn best when interacting with the professor as well as other students. With personal interaction for an online class not possible, you seem to provide the best alternative

  • Debbie Hydorn

    • My only concern is that you might be using too many new technologies in this course and that it might be too much for some students to manage.  Even though they are most likely familiar with most of what you mention here (Canvas, Youtube, online exhibitions and videos) you mention at least one other new technology below in addition to Popplet,that students might not be familiar with. I think you mentioned that you have taught online, at least part of a class, so you probably know what you’re doing with the technology.  I made a decision to limit the number of technologies I’ll be using this summer because it will be my first time teaching online.

    • Since the syllabus can act as an introduction to the course I read this from the perspective of a student enrolled in the course. Normally, I spend some class time going over the syllabus in class, to make sure that they know what it contains (and that they then know that I know they know what’s in it…I hope that makes sense).  Depending on how class content is delivered, we may not have that opportunity in an on-line course.  So, would a student know what to do upon “entering” this course?  Probably.  But, to make sure you might add something on the first page under Canvas about the schedule on the last page, so that they see right away – oh, there’s something I’m supposed to do the first week.  (Also change “Blackboard” to “Canvas” at the end of that section.)

    • Syllabus – page 2 (I’m going to do separate comments for each page): Under attendance and class participation and reflection/disucssion, include something in these sections about how participation and discussion are accomplished online. From elsewhere in your syllabus it looks like this will be accomplished partially through something inside Canvas but you also mention VoiceThread. Are these the only tools that students will have to use to participate, discuss and reflect.  If there are others you might think about restricting it to just these two; better yet, use only one.  That will mean you will only have to check one place to view their work and they will be less likely to get confused about where they are supposed to do what.   Under Disability Statement, are you expecting an in-person visit from each student?  What if they don’t live near by?

    • I really like the rough schedule of materials and the schedule on the last page.  But it’s a lot of different resources from a variety of different sources.  Will you have a place in Canvas, modules or something like that, so that everything is all in one place, to provide an easy access for students?  You will probably have the link to USHMM in Canvas but it would be good to include it here with the other links — unless these are the same links provided uner Art and Memorials?Same thing with the Youtube video -it would be good to include the link here as well.  I know I’m proposing some redundancy in your materials but with so many different resources it would be good to provide students with multiple avenues to find them.

    • When I first read this I hadn’t carefully read the previous page with the rough schedule so I didn’t see that you had included all of the links elsewhere.  So, it would be nice if you included something somewhere (at the top or the bottom) that the links for the materials are on the previous page and, if you have a separate list of resources within Canvas, in Canvas as well. I menioned previously that you had included other technology and here is here it is.  You ask them to use tumblr and VoiceThread but these are not mentioned above.  You might include here, in the Assignment/Project box and the Reflection/Discussion box, where or how students are supposed to and submit the assignments and complete their reflection and discussions.  You might consider including directions for using Etherpad, Popplet, tumblr and VoiceThruead somewhere in Canvas.  I see only one worksheet mentioned in this schedule (week 2 uner Assignment/project)- are there any others?  Do you have examples of previous assignments, from this or some other course,where students have presented their findings through a medium that’s not a written paper?  If so, it would be nice if you could post some artifact related to them in Canvas, and also give students a heads-up in Week1 that they will be expected to do this and should start thinking about it early.  (I know I would need a lot of time to manage that…)

    • I especially like the week 3 assignment where each group writes questions for the other group.  I should try to do that more in my classes.

    • While I have complained (a little) that maybe there are too many different types of technology and resources, the fact that there is variety is a strength of this course.  The interactivity is an important component of this course.

    • I like that the reflection is done in different ways, not just keeping a journal or submitting papers.

    • This is a great idea but you have to make sure that students know how to interact with each other.  I use blogs in my FSEMs and the students do a good job of responding to prompts with their posts.  But, I’m not very good at directing them to read each others’ posts.  It needs to be an explicit part of the assignment.

    • I hate to admit – and I’m hoping that this is to a limited audience – but I really don’t know that much about the Holocaust, other that what I had in high school history and have learned through movies and television shows (my husband loves the military and history channels…) I like that this course uses a variety of new approaches to teach about the Holocaust and to get students to reflect on what they are learning.  Reading the syllabus and this course description almost make me want to take this course – almost… it looks very interesting and very engaging.

    • I decided to do this last, after I had provided comments elsewhere.  My overall impression is that this is a great course, with interesting resources and approaches.  My comments below are intended to provide suggestions on how to make the course more manageable for studenst, not in content but in delivery and access.  If a student is taken another course online they won’t have a problem with this course.  But, if a student is new to the online learning environment they might get lost in all of these different ways of connecting to the course, with each other and the instructor.  I don’t think that we can assume that our students are as skilled with online learning as they are with the technology we see them using every day.  This is a much more focused use of technology and something they are not all ready for (even if they think they are).

      Great course- and good luck!

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 14th, 2012

      Like Dave Kolar I would be concerned about using Excel for this course if students will be expected to know how to use SPSS in future courses. I have never used Excel for ANOVA and wonder, based on what I have seen from other Excel output, how much different it is from SPSS output. I have been exploring the use of other software, including R, Statcrunch and Jmp for my own statistics courses, trying to find software that students will have easy access to but that will provide a meaningful exposure to data analysis methods.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 14th, 2012

      I like the division of the course into 3 components and think this is explained/described fairly well on the syllabus. I wish the syllabus had details about the statistical modules however. I espeically like the practice quiz approach that gives students the opportunity to find out what they don’t know on a low-stakes assessment. The fact that these practice quizzes are required and count toward their final grade will encourage them to take them seriously.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 14th, 2012

      the syllabus includes most of the details that I would want to know if I were taking this class. It would be helpful if the summary that comes toward the end on how many of the different thinking exercises (both kinds) were required was placed earlier in the syllabus. It is very clear what students will be doing but more detail about how they will be doing it would be helpful. What technology skills should students have to be successful in this course?

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 14th, 2012

      How many students will be in a group for these critical thinking exercises? Will each of them have an assigned task or role to play? More details about these critical thinking exercises would be helpful. I really like this kind of assignment, though, and think that it has the potential to build the designed learning community. But, I am wondering if there is enough variety possible in these activities – will students be challenged each time or will it seem as though they are doing the same thing over and over?

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 14th, 2012

      Now that I see the different sources for these critical thinking activities there should be enough variety to keep students interested. I like that students are responsible for finding half of the examples for these activities, so that they are contributing to their own learning and to the learning of the other students.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 14th, 2012

      The fact that students won’t have to wait to get their quiz scores is a definite plus. It could help to keep them more engaged with the course. Requiring students to contribute examples for the critical thinking exercies is another plus. The two basic kinds of assessments (critical thinking exercises and quizzes) do a good job of assessing the different kinds of learning in this type of course.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 14th, 2012

      Even though students will be expected to use Excel for some of the quiz questions the active learning component of the course could be enhanced with one or more data analysis projects. These seems like a natural kind of assignment for this course and one that would definitely help prepare students for future statistics courses.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 14th, 2012

      Both the quizzes and the critical thinking exercises offer students the opportunity to reflect on what they are learning. This is a strength for this course.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 14th, 2012

      Because the quiz dates are on the syllabus it should not be difficult for students to keep up with this part of their course work. More details on the syllabus about the critical thinking exercises would be helpful. How many times will students be expected to contribute and in what context?

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 14th, 2012

      Overall, I think this course meets the obejctives outlined by the committee. The two types of assignments will provide the students and the instructor with useful feedback on student learning. The course should be successful.

  • Debra hydorn

    • I would encourage you to limit the number of different sources you use for distributing course materials as well as the number of different online or other tools you want students to use, particularly if this is your first time teaching an online course.  This will give you an opportunity to see how the online environment works as well as to see what students can handle when they don’t have easy access to you for help.  If you have a small class then this might not be an issue.  But, if you end up with 20 or 30 students (depending on what maximum enrollment you can set) you could quickly become overwhelmed with students needing your assistance.

    • The syllabus is very well constructed with particular attention to the online components and expectations for students.  I like the structure described for the Canvas course site and will likely borrow that for my online statistics course this summer.  I also like that technology needs are included in the syllabus.

    • This is great!  It is well designed for student navigation – if they miss anything it’s not because the information wasn’t provided!

    • I agree that the accompanying pdf for lectures is a good idea.

    • I’m taking an online course right now (Coursera’s Model Thinking) and the link to each video lecture includes how long the lecture is.  I appreciate knowing how long each lecture is before starting it so you might consider adding that feature.

    • I like the idea of having a weekly class meeting online but I would encourage you to maybe consider doing it twice per week to accomodate student schedules, particularly if any of your students are working during the summer. You have indicated that you will answer e-mail between certain hours during the day but not every student will be available during those times.  If you make your scheduled weekly meetings during those times some students might not be able to attend.  To accomodate different students’ schedules you might consider extending your work day into the evening a few days each week and offering these weekly meetings during the day and during early evening hours (so two weekly meetings each week).

    • I took a quick look at each of these and they are all very different in terms of structure and how much information is provided on how to navigate and use the site.  Pockefinder in particular provides very little information on the purpose and use of the site.  If you really must use all of these I would encourage you to provide detailed instructions and/or videos on how to use each site, including an example for a protein that you haven’t assigned to a student.

    • I like the idea of the Student Project Gallery where students can view the work of their class mates.  I think this will encourage better, more thoughtful responses since the only audience for their work won’t be the professor.  Plus, this sets up a collaborative learning environment – students can learn from each other as well as from the instructor.

    • How will you provide writing guidance for your course online?  Will students be able to have access to writing assistance?

  • Donald Rallis

    • How will students do their teamwork and participate in discussions online? Will you use Canvas, Google Docs, or some other application? Will the discussion forums be live, or will students exchange ideas blog-style? What form will the presentations take?

    • Which interactions will be synchronous, and which asynchronous?

      I will pass along a suggestion made by one of the reviewers of my proposal. Be sure to spend time at the beginning of the course leading students through the technologies and applications they will use. I have assumed in the past that students know how to use Canvas, Google Docs, web conferencing, and the like, but many don’t.

    • Joshua, Many thanks for agreeing to serve as a reviewer, and for the useful suggestions you have given so far. I think your idea about directed questions is a very good one; it helps explain why my various blogs get lots of views but few comments.

      I will certainly set up a Twitter #hashtag for the course; I had intended that I use this for my observations as I travel, but I like the idea of students tweeting as well, either on the same tag or a different one.

      Your training comment is spot on. I think we make a terrible mistake if we assume that all students are tech-savvy, as I learned when we experienced our first semester with Canvas last Fall. I intend to use the first two weeks of the course largely for training in the applications we will use, and discussions on how we will use them. We have also agreed that there needs to be good and available support on campus for students who experience problems while I am away.

      After posting the course proposal here, I put together a substantially revised version and a detailed syllabus which I would very much like you and other reviewers to look over. Ideally I will post it here; otherwise I will get it to you by e-mail.

    • I must admit that I have not yet thought through the details of the on-ground section of the course, although I have a general idea of what I want to do

      Part of on-campus introductory segment clearly has to focus on the subject matter of the course, but I can use readings (and some 5 minute recorded mini-lectures I plan to make over the summer to do this.) Using the technology will be another part. I had not thought about the community-building element; I think that you are quite correct in saying its important. I will give it some more thought.

      Do you have any suggestions?

    • I have requested a 3 hour evening time slot, once a week, for the web conferencing part of the course. I certainly don’t want give a 3 hour online lecture, though. I plan to try to get as much discussion going as possible; among and between students themselves, and also in the open online conference.

      A way of doing this is perhaps also to students brief questions, and get them to discuss the question in small groups for 5 – 10 minutes then have each group give their response.

      In my experience, it is very difficult for students (and often the instructor) to maintain interest and concentration for three hours. With very easy access to distractions online, this will be even more difficult than it is in the classroom. That’s why discussion and group work will be critical.

      Do you have other suggestions?

    • There will be individual meetings for each section of the class. This is in part because I think that discussion will be much easier in a class of 35 than in one of 100+. Also, at a much more practical level, getting a license for a web conferencing application that allows more than 50 participants is prohibitively expensive.

    • I have abandoned the idea of using BBB as the web conferencing application in the course. It just isn’t up to the task. At the recommendation of people far more knowledgeable than I am, I will probably use Blackboard Collaborate or Gotomeeting. I have trial versions of both, and will play around with them over Spring Break to see which works best (Cost, alas, may be a factor in the decision as well.)

      As far as I can tell, neither can support break-out sessions (although I am not certain about this.) I had thought that students might use either Skype or Google docs for their group communications. Do you think this would work? Do you know of any web conferencing applications that do allow break-outs?

    • I am piloting some of these this semester, and they seem to be working well (although they still need some refinement.) I am also working with people who know Canvas to try and figure out a way to set up multiple choice questions where, if a student gets an answer wrong, s/he get some feedback and suggestions, then gets the chance to try to answer the question again for a reduced number of points.

    • This is a very useful suggestion. Because of the size of the class, I am working on putting together assignments in which students will get instant feedback on their answers, and suggestions of what to do differently to reach the correct answer. I plan to respond individually to groups, and also to some individual students (with feedback, perhaps, on points they made in class discussions.)

    • This semester, I have been using statistics from the dismal job market as a way of trying to persuade students that learning how to learn is in their own self-interest, and not simply an intellectual exercise. I think I am starting to get this message across!

    • Thanks for the suggestions, Marjorie. I like the idea of referring explicitly to the goals at specific points in the course. I haven’t done so in the past.

      Yes, I devote the better part of a class period to talking about geography’s sub-disciplines, and will certainly do so in the online course as well.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 11th, 2012

      Me too. I find that when students see the relevance in the real world of what they learn in class, they tend to understand and appreciate the subject a lot more. Perhaps political polling might be another source of contemporary information you could use.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 11th, 2012

      Will the course be entirely asynchronous, or blended with a synchronous component? I have found that offering Powerpoint synchronously, and recording the class, offers the opportunity for students to ask questions and interact with the instructor in real time, giving students a sense that they are involved (It has the added advantage of saving the instructor from having to answer the same question many times to individual students.)

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 11th, 2012

      I agree with Mike’s comment; it is for similar reasons that I suggested the possibility of synchronous meetings. Encouraging Skype-type student discussion is a great idea, though, and I plan to take it up in my course.

    • Comment on PSYC 261: Introductory Statistics on February 11th, 2012

      I have suggested to the OLI and Canvas folks that it would be very helpful if the quiz module of Canvas could be modified to allow students a second (or subsequent) attempt at a question for a reduced number of points. If a student gets a question wrong on the first attempt, instant feedback could give suggestions about how to approach the question differently. This has the dual advantages of building the practice component into each question, and also of making quizzes learning as well as testing experiences.

  • Dr. Szulczewski

    • My only suggestion here may be to list a couple of the methodologies that will be tackled.

    • That is a great re-write of objective 4!

    • Even if students are reading the text for the first time in order to look up the answers, I think a quiz is a way to get them to open the book. Combined with other assignments, it should work with the online version of the course.

    • This syllabus is geared toward the face-to-face version of the course and does not include a new grading scale for the new types of assignments and discussions and policies that are needed here.

    • How will this introduction be presented? Will the photo and essay be consolidated into a word document and then uploaded to Canvas as assignment #1?

    • Great follow-up assignment.

    • Just a few practical points that seem unclear. Will this be the same group formed in #3 that will then discuss other works of art? Will the works be selected by you or them? How will they know what additional approached to use? How will they present the summary of their ideas?

    • How will the students be able to gauge on their own how they are doing besides the quizzes? Will there be some probing questions at mid-points or is it more a product of the discussions?

    • Will these two analyses be on the same work of art or 2 separate ones? Perhaps they could be relevant to and spaced throughout the course’s content to BECOME content that other students must read, like a textbook assignment.

    • This sounds like a LOT of stuff to have in one initial meeting. I like the idea of having a mandatory synchronous meeting (for my course, too), but have wondered about syncing schedules. I was thinking about saying it was mandatory, but then having it available if students missed it (but it has to be viewed before they can do anything else). This is also where I’m employing a syllabus quiz.

    • I agree that it would be very valuable to have more structure/schedules built in about when to do something, when to respond, etc.

    • I love that you incorporated an in-person visit here. There are so many choices, and maybe you could also include a separate virtual tour of a famous museum in a European country, many of them have very sophisticated web tours. (And that would answer the disability concern).

    • Just to re-emphasize- it would be good to have these spaced with due dates that will correspond to your lectures and reading assignments.

    • It’s important to encourage non-synchronous interactivity, too. It’s easy to be a silent student in the background, paying attention and reading but not interacting, esp in an online setting.

    • I agree that making this a big part of the grade will bring that out even more.

    • What would the details of the assignment be? How many posts, comments on other posts, responses to comments made on prior posts? I’ve found you really have to explain the expectations with blogging.

    • As I suggested above, having a virtual museum tour option would solve these problems.

    • To make the product more distinctive than the other assignments, maybe you can use a site to create a kind of photobook, like Snapfish, Shutterfly, or Blurb. Each student would contribute a page. That may provide accountability, plus a nice souvenir or custom textbook from their course!

    • I have found that the blog format really does promote active learning- students find links, embed videos, etc.

    • This is a bit unclear.

    • How will this differ than some of the other assignments that are spread out throughout the course and among the students and student groups?

    • I think this is a wonderful course that will bring to life the study of the history of art, much more than the stereotypical course where you sit in the dark and watch a really long slide show (that was my experience). I do think it’s very important to completely revise the syllabus and flesh out the assignments, expectations, and policies.

    • I do not have access to change the url within the document, but for future reviewers, please go directly to this website: www.airnow.gov

    • My specifying Google Docs may be me making an overgeneralization error- an IT person told me that almost ALL forms of multimedia could be brought into Google Docs to be worked on together. I figured they could be created as they wished and then have all the final products easily viewed on YouTube.

    • Did you see the example Voice Thread through the link below? There are also further details in the syllabus about this assignment.

    • Thank you for 2 great suggestions! I do like the prompts she used (that’s what I meant by my “Cues”). I am not familiat with Google Hangouts and will check it out ASAP.

    • This was a misnomer on my part- I did not mean they would fill in a skeleton powerpoint, I meant the Powerpoint would contain minimal content and direct students to OTHER resources and activities.

    • This is one of the features of the website. A county compare is when you click on two counties and compare the air quality values. The data are presented in columns.

    • The wiki link is provided in paragraph 17.

  • Frankie G

    • For older students, like myself, allowing students to familiarize themselves with the on-line tools would be a great help. Otherwise they may be overwhelmed from the start.

    • Great idea to have peer editing for the Philosophy of Education Paper… the idea of professional development starts now. Also like incorporating outside school officials to aid on Final Class Project.

    • I noticed in the syllabus, that you mentioned (for the debate) that “You will work with a partner and your partner will take an opposing view.”
      However, do the students actually work together to form the debate, or do they present their issues with the other unaware. If the two have worked together prior, it takes the spontaneity out of the debate — more importantly, how each student will defend their view when targeted.

    • Fore warn students about an appropriate browser for some of these tools.(i.e. Safari for Mac instead of Firefox) I personally couldn’t get them to operate until switching service.

  • Gary Anderson

  • George Meadows

    • I think the data analysis communities are a great idea – especially since you’re basing assignments on these interests.  Sounds like a great way to get some online collaboration going on.

    • Doing screencasts using Jing is a great idea – one nice thing about screencasts is that students can pause and replay sections they might not get the first time.  It would be a great way to walk through a complex problem/example.

  • Giulia Forsythe

    • This is a pedantic question but is it 1250 AD?

      I agree with Dr. Szulczewski that listing a couple of the methodologies would be useful.

    • The learning objectives indicate the outcome but some specifics would be helpful to clarify, under what conditions, and with which criteria? It is also helpful to frame objectives with observable behaviors & actions.
      Kelly Donahue-Wallace gives an excellent example by restating objective #4 with a measurable revision.
      The same applies for LO #1, “understand”. How will you determine if they understand? In what scenarios will they need to understand and use this basic, yet specialized vocabulary. Words like ‘interpret’ and ‘express’ may offer more clarity on expectations.
      Similarly, LO#2 some conditions for success may be helpful.

    • Quizzes can be a very effective way to get students to interact with the content and I like the way you are framing the quizzes as a basis to guide classroom discussion. Also getting immediate feedback is excellent but it is important the questions are written well. The act of taking the quiz itself can be a learning opportunity.
      There is a tendency to make multiple choice quizzes low level question-correct answer format but this does not need to be the case. There are very effective ways of tapping into higher order thinking with multiple choice, as the previous commenter indicates.
      Without knowing how your questions are framed, I’ll just suggest some M/C guiding principles based on work from D.DiBattista (2010):
      – make all distractors plausible
      – do not use ‘all of the above’
      – do not use ‘none of the above’
      – use question format when possible, as fill-in-the-blank puts second language learners at a disadvantage and often grammatical structure gives away the answer.
      – in the question stem, present the issue under consideration clearly and contain as much information as possible.
      -avoid negative wording to promote learning, you don’t want students remembering something that is NOT true

    • I think it’s great that you will have all these interactive, audi-visual elements in your course. My only caution would be requiring the students to visit too many sites. Hopefully there is something you can integrate into either the course blog or Canvas site that bundles these different places together. It is good to have one definitive source to avoid confusion.

    • I have the same question about how this will be submitted and shared. Ideally they would be able to see each others’ submissions and be able to connect and comment accordingly.
      Discussion board comes to mind first, unless Canvas allows making assignment submissions public. The blog would work, too, depending on how user access is controlled.

    • Like the previous commenter suggests this could be a rich opportunity for students to be producers of the content and the other students can offer valuable critiques. As long as you have the groups doing complementary works, so that you don’t end up with a bunch of assignments that are basically the same, this could be very engaging and powerful.

  • Helen M-R

    • I really like the idea of you teaching from different locations to pique students’ interest, and also having guest speakers from these locations. I think synchronous sessions are particularly powerful for doing this, because it makes the content come alive in a way that it doesn’t otherwise.

      I suggest, however, that the 3 hour synchronous meeting be shortened, and some of this time be replaced instead with some of the following:
      – create a video (or series of videos) and/or podcast that students watch/listen to BEFORE the synchronous session, ideally with guiding questions for them to think about as they watch/listen. This will break up the “talking head ” – -especially when the head that is talking is in a little video window on their computers. They can then send you questions or post questions in a course wiki or discussion forum prior to your synchronous session.
      – Then, when students come to the online session, instead of being a talking head for 3 hours, you can engage them in synchronous discussion having them use the chat window to respond to follow up questions that you have of them relating to the video/audio lecture that they already watched of you; you can respond to their questions, including doing any follow-up on-site research to respond to questions they may have about the place
      – Have students also engage with each other in online discussions either in preparation for the synchronous session, or as a follow-up to your sync lecture (see also my comments under the asynchronous section).

      [I say this based on my own experience teaching sync online classes, and from student feedback about sync sessions. They say that no matter how engaging the teacher, it is too long to try to stay focused on a sync session for more than about 90 minutes]

      I think Voice Thread (as suggested by Maoch) is also a great idea

    • I like your ideas here for engaging the students asynchronously outside of class, using both individual tasks and also collaborative. In addition to the ideas here, I strongly recommend using discussion forums, where students can respond to each other in a threaded discussion format as they explore higher level, open ended questions that you pose to them. While posting comments on blogs can, to some extent, enable students to respond to each other, the very nature of the blog comments tends to be directed at the blog author. If comments are directed at others’ comments, it is difficult to follow the conversation flow. Online discussion forums are much more like a conversation, and can really lead to depth of thinking (more so than in synchronous discussion, with online or face-to-face).

    • If you create meaningful, deep questions that challenge students to explore different viewpoints, online asynchronous discussion forums will really help you achieve what you describe here (i.e. having students gain confidence in constructive argument, and come to appreciate the value of issues-based argument). In a face-to-face discussion some students (rarely most) share spontaneously, but the confines of the real-time discussion make it difficult for them to develop really well thought out answers, or to support their assertions with reference to readings, to what you have said in your lecture, and to their own experience. By contrast, when asked the same questions in an asynchronous forum, students ALL respond (you can require them to), taking the time they need to think, to read and really “listen” to others responses, and to support their assertions with reference to different sources.

    • The more you can bring in students and others from the places you visit, the better! This hearing of first-hand experiences is SO powerful.

    • My comments earlier about asynchronous discussion apply here too (as these discussions are very powerful in building and deepening reflection). But the synchronous comments in the chat window, in repines to questions you post to the class during the live sessions are also valuable. The drawback there is students are responding on the fly — making depth of thinking not as great, and particularly challenging for students who type slowly. Nevertheless these synchronous discussions are invaluable to get students thinking and engaging. If these are followed by asynchronous discussions where they continue to explore ideas raised in class, then you get to real depth of reflection.

    • I agree with Maoch’s assessment here – I think this course sounds fascinating, and also like the idea of having students read the local papers (where feasible – when there is an English language version) of the places you are visiting.

  • J West

  • J. West

  • Jackie Filla

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 14th, 2013

      I agree, more elaboration would be useful; perhaps a brief overview of the main principles that will be addressed in the course would be helpful to students.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 14th, 2013

      I think this language is a bit vague, the terms and definitions are the same. The objectives would be clearer if they included a bit more description.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 14th, 2013

      I think these sound like creative ideas to make your course and assignments interactive for the students. I think the political science research Wiki is an excellent idea.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 14th, 2013

      My version of the syllabus has the assignment sheets, which I find to have clear expectations and format guidelines.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 14th, 2013

      I think an additional component that this course offers in this category is the idea that students are learning how to be engaged citizens in American democracy. They can apply the material from lectures and examinations to voting in elections and interactions with public officials.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 14th, 2013

      My comment posted on paragraph 7 actually belongs here on paragraph 9:


      I think an additional component that this course offers in this category is the idea that students are learning how to be engaged citizens in American democracy. They can apply the material from lectures and examinations to voting in elections and interactions with public officials.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 14th, 2013

      This belongs on paragraph 9

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 14th, 2013

      You may also want to mention your pre-grading policy which allows them to turn in their timeline items early to receive feedback. Also worth including is your policy that allows them to continue to submit written work during their two week period until their writing is acceptable.

      These policies demonstrate how your grading scheme promotes the development of their writing skills.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 14th, 2013





      Dr. Murphy’s plan meets the guidelines of the UMW-OLI. I believe Dr. Murphy has created a course that creatively utilizes technology to engage and challenge students. Dr. Murphy has a clear plan for how this course will facilitate life long learning, creative thinking and the development of hard skills. In particular, this course is strong in providing linkages between academia and real world politics. Please note the areas where I think more elaboration may improve the plan.

  • Janine Davis

    • Thanks for the feedback–the first few pages must be included with every COE syllabus–they were developed before I started at UMW.  I agree though, it does make for a reaaaally long syllabus! I will look at shortening it wherever possible.

    • I hear you on this…I have begun to found this same kind of “scattering” effect occurring, when some students are just used to using Facebook and don’t want to add Twitter, for example.  I am thinking about having dispositions (learning from research, for example) and just allowing students to find the best way to do that (Twitter, an already established email list called SMART Brief, etc.) and reflect about it on their blog.  Using Twitter has had limited success for sure this semester–some loved it and some didn’t like it at all.  The problem is building a community when they do have choice–again having a scattering effect.  Maybe networked blogs would bring this all together in one place.

    • Thanks, Chelsea!  You are awesome!

  • Jason

    • These are clear and highlight the important role that understanding theory will be connected to pedagogical practice in the course.  A student can’t read this list without noticing that.

    • (I clicked “submit comment” and it gave me an error message so I clicked on it again and I got a message saying “Duplicate comment detected,” but I don’t see it; I’m going to retype it)

      These objectives are clear and they indicate well the importance in the course of connecting theory with pedagogical practice.  No student who read these could miss that.

    • The syllabus is certainly thorough! My own preference is for a comprehensive syllabus, but not one with so much packed into it that students don’t read it (and we’re not really any different, I think, from them).  In other words, I would probably make it–where you can–more succinct.  The descriptions of the assignments are great and, of course, necessary.  But at 13 pages (whew!) you might be better off putting some of the non-essential material in a second course document.

    • I really like that there will be some online pieces students can do at any time and others they can schedule with their peers or instructor.  If this were an entirely online course, I would advise that more of the work be asynchronous since with busy schedules, it is hard to find common times to be online.  However, in this hybrid situation where there are already class-time expectations where students can make arrangements with each other, things seem perfectly well set up for things to work.  There are, after all, clear “community” advantages to doing things really together. 

    • I really like that Canvas is the primary starting place for the online elements since students use it on a regular basis and will feel at home right from the beginning.  My only question would be–and it really is a question and not a criticism–whether there are too many other platforms and programs used.  If using these (Pinterest, Prezi, Slideshare, etc.) is important because teachers need to use these, then I defer entirely to Janine.  I worry a little, though, that we get excited about technology and can think of so many great ways to use it, but in the process sometimes we a) create a lot of extra work for students, and b) mastering the technology gets in the way of establishing community connections, which is why we want to use the technology in the first place.  At the end of the day, it is every instructors judgment that matters, but sometimes multiplying ways in which students connect undercuts the goal.

    • I really like the tasks (not necessarily the multiple forums, but the substantive tasks) that students will be engaged together in.  The projects and peer reviews seem very well constructed and incredibly useful.  The more we learn to work together, formulate criticisms carefully, and respond to criticism thoughtfully, the better we become at whatever we are doing.

    • I want to echo Victoria’s comment that the reflective questions–such as what kind of teacher am I becoming? (or what kind of teacher do I want to be?–are important.  Janine has certainly done a wonderful job (as I read both the explanation here and the syllabus) of making reflection and creative thinking part of every assignment.  Excellent!

    • Creative thinking seems to be critical to being teachers in the settings these students will find themselves in.  The range of problems and challenges of all sorts that they will face (much more so than we do as university educators, I bet) will demand quick and creative solutions.  But as Janine has shown in the syllabus, this can only be done well upon understanding the various models of instruction that others have spent their lives developing.  No one needs to start from scratch.  Particular situations will inevitably differ, but there is a wealth of experience upon which creative thinking and problem solving can rely.  I really love this element of the way Janine has constructed the course.  The assignments here are wide enough too that students will really have room for the type of thinking she is trying to cultivate.

    • I’m putting this comment way down here only because it is my concluding thought:  Janine’s course is as carefully laid out as any I have seen.  My only worry is about the too extensive use of technology here (too many modes).  Everything else–and here I mean more than just the online elements–is amazingly carefully done.  Her colleagues in Education should be excited and proud of her work and course development.

    • This seems appropriately concise—informative, yet without wordiness.

    • These are obviously things you plan to advance, but as someone unfamiliar with your field, I might want to know whether a learning objective is that I would be introduced to, for example, “data analysis skills,” or whether I was going to master such things. Perhaps I would have my decision making skills enhanced?

    • I really like that you are so concerned to make the course navigation clear. Canvas isn’t intuitive for every user in the sense that it isn’t obvious where to start, where to find things, how to send a message, etc.

      I also like including some revised versions of lecture notes. I think I might do a bit of this too.

      I admire your desire to be able to look at students’ handwritten work–it reminds me how different various disciplines are in terms of pedagogical needs.

      But overall, your desire to be as organized as possible will really help those students new to Canvas (or just new to your discipline).

    • If I were a student I might wonder if the course pack is available for cost at the bookstore but free in Canvas, or whether you mean that some of the material is to be purchased at the bookstore but some will be available for free on Canvas.

      Could you tell me (as I pretend to be a student) what I am supposed to look for in choosing a proctor? Would my mom work? Would I need to go to a local community college’s testing center to have it proctored?

      The breakdown of grades lists one test but then in the description below it you say there is a midterm and a final. Could you clarify? Also, is the final to be proctored in the same way as the midterm?

    • This sounds great. It will be interesting to see how this works and whether you end up changing it back to your original idea of providing them with output after the first online run. I admire your bravery! Very cool idea.

    • I don’t have anything to add here–Jeff and David have covered it. (Btw, Jeff, great to see you here–hope all is good! Are you still in Philly?)

    • I wish EVERYONE had a course like this at one point or another in their lives.

    • My comment just above is in appreciation for what you are trying to do, captured again in this section. In my own field I am trying to get students to be able to analyze arguments better. It isn’t always fun for all of them, but I hope that they leave my courses with more confidence that they don’t have to just take other people’s arguments as given. There are particular ways to engage with claims and arguments, and knowing how to do this better really does empower each of us. Your course is doing this. I will encourage my advisees to take your class.

  • jbroome

    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      I really appreciate that students have the responsibility to independently work on their vocabulary and that you are bringing them together in person, to engage and apply this new knowledge.


    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      Just a thought–

      By the end of the course, would it be productive for students to create their own Go Animates or any original project?


    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      And you do have them make original products. Awesome.

    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      What forms of assessments will you use and will they have any resemblance to the products that students are interacting with online?

      In other words, are you looking at how a blended course, and the online engagement and creative piece, and fostering in class work, impacts traditional assessments?

      Will you have traditional formative assessments (quizzes) and summative assessments (tests)?

    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      How high on the Bloom’s Taxonomy scale do your assessments go?



    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      I find this mix of learning methods to be brilliant. It has been something I’ve been working on in my pedagogy for the past few years.

      It really gives them ownership of their knowledge and comprehension, which they are then responsible to bring to the larger group.

      I do this with my students and they create a social contract of their expectations for the online environment and in class activities for each other. As part of this they create the expectations for how I grade their participation in the course.

    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      Great use of application and meaning-making.

    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      Are you going to use Jing for this?

      Link: http://www.techsmith.com/jing.html


    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      I REALLY like this but I do have a suggestion/ed professor warning:

      For a non-visual learner, this could be very overwhelming or even so detailed its distracting. I would be careful to make sure you have very literal instructions and expectations for this. I could see a student over-thinking it OR getting so creative that they spend too much time creating them.

      I have this problem when students create e-portfolios for getting hired as first year teachers. They focus so much on making it cool or creative that they lose focus on the purpose, content or practicality of it.

    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      Also, love this idea. Refer to comment 14. I’d set distinct expectations and limits.

    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      What form will this dictionary be in?

    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      This is all Bloom’s Taxonomy-based. I have a lot of information on this for the language to use, etc., if you’re interested.

    • Comment on Greek and Latin Roots of English on February 27th, 2013

      So, students are memorizing a lot of words, and they are creatively applying digital solutions for applying them- how many words are they learning? how many are they expected to then apply?

      It probably would have made more sense to read your syllabus first. Fail.

  • Jeff

  • Jeff Branson

    • Having the course extend through 2 summer sessions, instead of only 1 session is crucial to the student. If a student were to take this course during 1 summer session, he or she would not have enough time to fully learn the important information to understand the structure and function of proteins.

    • Questions regarding lecture material can easily be asked. However, asking questions about the projects could be difficult over an online meeting. For example, if a student were having trouble with the protein data bank website, he or she may find it difficult to explain the problem. Therefore, I think Dr. Gallik should have office hours where students can come in and ask him questions in person.

    • The project is a great learning tool to tie together what the student learns in lecture. I am taking Dr. Gallik’s proteins class now and by having my own protein to learn the structure and function about I am able to reinforce the material I learn in lecture.

    • Biochemistry 1 should be a prerequisite for this class. Biochemistry 1 talks about protein structure and amino acid R group chemistry. Both, which are beneficial for a complete understanding when Biol 443 travels more in depth of protein structure an function. Organic chemistry deals with molecular structure and organic synthesis, which is beneficial for amino acid recognition, but doesn’t discuss too many other topics relative to protein structure and function.

    • Biochemistry 1 should be a prerequisite for this class. Biochemistry 1 talks about protein structure and amino acid R group chemistry. Both, which are beneficial for a complete understanding when Biol 443 travels more in depth of protein structure an function. Organic chemistry deals with molecular structure and organic synthesis, which is beneficial for amino acid recognition, but doesn’t discuss too many other topics relative to protein structure and function.

    • Disregard the post about Biochemistry 1. That is for paragraph 14.

    • The video lecture will be one of the only interactions the student has with Dr. Gallik. By incorporating the pdf file for the lecture, the student can reference that when studying. Thus, they will be able take ownership of learning the material on his or her own, which is a important part of the liberal arts education.

    • The video tutorial of the assignment is great to guide the student when he or she is using the online resources because they can be difficult sometimes if one isn’t familiar with them.

    • Each part of the assignment corresponds to the liberal art value of active learning because the student is taking what he or she learned from the screen casts and transferring it over to the project on a specific protein as well as learning information during the project that they may not have entirely grasped in lecture.

    • Proteins are the foundation of biology in my opinion. If one doesn’t have a decent understanding of proteins, it will be difficult for them to understand other topics in biology. Therefore, a course on just protein structure and function is essential for each biology major. Offering the course online during the semester will give students with conflicting schedules an opportunity to take the course during the academic year as well as during the summer.

    • If the student has a question during the exam, what will they do? Usually Dr. Gallik’s exams are very straight forward and self explanatory. However, if there is a diagram or short answer question, which a student needs clarification on, Dr Gallik should be available online at pre determined times for any questions that may arise.

    • I have used adobe connect before and it was very user friendly. Thus, the students and professor should be able to conduct meetings very smoothly.

    • Another great thing about this course, regardless of it being offered online or not is the convenience of  not having to purchase a textbook. All of the resources are free (wiki articles, protein websites, adobe software and lectures).

    • These online resources are extremely useful once the student understands how to navigate the website. Every topic in lecture can be observed or reinforced on the website. These include structures, which can correlate to protein function and protein families are also named on the websites.

    • As I stated in paragraph 2, the study of proteins is crucial for the biology major and one day I think a course on strictly proteins should be a requirement for the major because without proteins, there would be no biology to study in the first place! I support Dr. Gallik’s claim that the student will gain a greater understanding of the natural world after taking this course. I am halfway throughout the course now  and already have a greater appreciation for proteins and the biological world.

    • The scientific writing that occurs in this course is beneficial to the development of the student as a scientist. He or she will be presented with raw quantitative data produced by another scientist and will need to pick and choose what information is to be included as well as construct writing that another individual can understand. The semester project possesses the majority of the scientific writing so plenty of practice is available to the student.

  • Jeff Edmunds

    • This is brief but fine as is.

    • Perhaps include Self-Directed Learning if appropriate.

    • Please ignore, comment intended for paragraph 3.

    • Perhaps include Self-Directed Learning if appropriate for assignments.

    • I suggest having the Normal Distribution as a single module by itself. I have found that students in the online environment struggle much more with the basic concepts of the normal distribution table compared to students in a traditional classroom.

      Having students submit pictures for assignments is less than ideal for both students and instructors who will have to download these to grade. Consider searching out free software such as Padowan that allows students to save work as files to submit.

    • Again consider a single separate module for the Normal Distribution.

    • This is a good idea. Another good way of encouraging community is to have each student answer a specific question or two in each module and have them respond to each other. Since there are a variety of topics in each module it is in the students’ best interest to pay attention to the rest of the class.

    • I repeat my suggestion above to have each student respond to one or two question per module and then respond to one another. This gives each student a kind of ‘ownership’ of a specific topic within the module.

    • A suggestion here is that students work in groups to design their own statistical analysis project. I found that students enjoyed this type of project much more when it was of their own design.

    • Again a project designed by the student may improve upon the active learning here.

    • This is well spelled out, learning statistics involves much more than computation. Description and inference involve much critical thinking.

    • This is also well spelled out. You might add that providing a wide variety of topics is empowering, some students will connect well with specific topics (the environment, race and gender, sports, etc.) more than others.

    • Again perhaps list some specific subject areas that will be presented to give students variety. The great thing about teaching statistics is that you can apply the concepts to just about any topic you choose.

    • This was intended for paragraph 13:

      Again perhaps list some specific subject areas that will be presented to give students variety. The great thing about teaching statistics is that you can apply the concepts to just about any topic you choose.

    • Overall I think this is very well done, nothing is unclear and I believe that it meets the guidelines of the UMW Online Learning Initiative. My three main suggestions are summarized as follows:

      Consider a separate module for the Normal Distribution. In my experience online students have much more trouble with this than non-online students because of the visual nature of the normal curve.
      Consider a data analysis project that the students design themselves or in groups. In my experience allowing them to apply the concepts to something meaningful to them greatly enhances active learning.
      In the Empowerment section consider listing some specific subject areas to which the statistical concepts will be applied. Students are empowered by learning the concepts in a format that is relevant to them.

  • Jennifer Hansen-Glucklich

    • Good opening paragraph. Two thoughts: first, since you mention the “impact of technology,” it might be good to add a sentence about how scientific and technological innovation (which ideally, according to Enlightenment ideals, should advance humanity) actually contributed in the case of the Holocaust to barbarity — and the Holocaust has thus been often described as demonstrating the failure of Enlightenment ideals and the perversion of principles underlying scientific progress; second, will you be considering the Holocaust as a genocide in the context of other genocides or as a “unique” historical event of unparalleled import? Just a few thoughts . . .

    • The first sentence is a little vague — you might explain in an additional sentence what you mean by “resources,” and give a couple of examples. I like the second sentence a lot. In the section about the meaning of the Holocaust in contemporary culture, it might be good to add a sentence about the impact of new media on Holocaust memorialization and commemoration (interactive media museums, like the Beit Ha-Shoah Museum in LA, online accessible Holocaust testimonies, new media art installations, etc). Final sentence could be expanded a bit — maybe just give a couple of possible example of what such aspects might be — analyzing memorials? films? testimony archiving?

    • When you write that assignments submitted by students will get individualized feedback you might add something like “in the form of written comments by the instructor.” Are research projects completely individual or are there opportunities to present their work to each other and get peer review before final submission?

    • I like the idea here, but the second sentence is vague — maybe give a concrete example? Such as, students will directly respond to each other’s comments and will have the chance to receive and offer peer review throughout the course via …. just to make it more specific and easier to visualize.

    • This paragraph I think is very important and, if you add a bit, could be more powerful — maybe state briefly HOW students will reflect — that is, via Skype so they can respond directly to each other in real time? Or via email comments they share with each other so that it is like a conversation?

    • The final sentence: about appropriateness of memory, art, film — you might refine this a bit. Do you mean appropriateness of certain forms of memory? That is, memory created and shaped through certain forms of transmission (film / pop culture / television /museums) — the issue of generations (dying off of actual survivors and therefore personal, narrative memory and increased  distance of the event (the idea of postmemory seems to me important here — the role of mediation.)

    • Maybe add something here about how students will be asked to concretely respond throughout the course on a meta-level to what they are learning, in order to enhance the “critical” aspect of learning — through, for example, comparison to alternative methods and approaches — is this done in writing? Again, I might mention here the issue of transmission —

    • You might think about adding here a sentence about how you will help the students develop the critical tools with which to define their own approach — that is, in defining their own approach they will draw on the approaches you have already used in the course — that is, historical, sociological, philosophical, etc.  Then you could also mention that they will have the opportunity to practice this individualized approach in their final project — since it won’t be a written paper, this also offers the students a chance to be creative in ways not always fostered in traditional classes. So, your course offers a unique opportunity to combine critical, rigorous thinking and analysis with creative expression — it might be nice to mention this here.

    • Maybe add here one more sentence about what the hoped-for outcome of such interactive learning is — to encourage new, collaborative viewpoints? To teach students how to critique their own ideas as they evolve? To help them learn to work together in an intellectual environment? To promote openness in an education setting? Etc.

    • Syllabus: The syllabus looks great — one thought — have you considered having them keep a journal in which they respond to all readings / videos / youtube clips / interviews / etc? For an online course it might be useful. Also, will you be using skype at all so that they can “meet” face to face, at least once? Not necessary, I think, but it might be a nice way to create community.

  • Jody Cardinal

    • Before I noticed that Mara had chosen “exposure to new ideas” as one of her OLI values, I thought immediately how successful this course will be in exposing undergraduates to the newest developments in the fields of modern poetry and modernist studies.  Using the MJP digital archive as the focal resource for the course is a wonderful idea as it will expose students to one of the most important dominant trends in the field of modernism – periodical studies – while also introducing them to the study of poetry in the context of its original publication. While studies of individual volumes can be rich and rewarding, studying poetry in the context of its periodical publication allows students to experience the poems as readers in the period experienced them  encouraging reflection on the experiences of early 20th century poets and their readers.   This course represents what we hope the best liberal arts courses will do – expose students to the most important scholarly developments in the field. 

    • Before I noticed that Mara had chosen “exposure to new ideas” as one of her OLI values, I thought immediately how successful this course will be in exposing undergraduates to the newest developments in the fields of modern poetry and modernist studies.  Using the MJP digital archive as the focal resource for the course is a wonderful idea as it will expose students to one of the most important dominant trends in the field of modernism — periodical studies — while also introducing them to the study of poetry in the context of its original publication.  While studies of individual volumes can be rich and rewarding, studying poetry in the context of its periodical publication allows students to experience the poems as readers in the period experienced them encouraging reflection on the experiences of early 20th century poets and their readers.  This course represents what we hope the best liberal arts courses will do — expose students to the most important scholarly developments in the field.   

    • The syllabus articulates a well-thought out plan for the course, and I particularly like the way Mara is engaging upper-class students in the authentic activities of literary scholars by allowing them to explore the processes of writing literary theory and recovering “lost” poets.   The syllabus clearly opens up opportunities for active learning by positing that “the course outcomes are not pre-ordained.”  Mara is giving students the opportunity to collaboratively construct knowledge, a feature of the course that lends itself directly to the OLI values of active learning and community.   

    • Given the rich, multiple writing opportunities Mara is providing, I’m wondering if it would be feasible to require students to respond to each other’s writing not only in terms of content but in terms of the writing itself.  Might students do some form of an online writing workshop?  Perhaps groups could be paired together to provide guided  feedback on each others’ evolving critical concepts statements as a way to consider the expectations of scholarly audiences.  Would such an activity offer an opportunity for reflecting on the nature of different audiences – the audience for a magazine like Poetry vs. the audience for a scholarly analysis of such a magazine?  What do literary scholars expect from other scholars?  How are those expectations evolving in the digital age?  Mara may have already considered, however, that the short 5-weeks of the course might not allow enough time for a writing workshop. 

    • I think the way Mara has structured the course exposes students not only to new ideas about modernism and modern poetry but to new ideas about how literary fields are constructed, categorized, and labeled.  As she mentions, her course is giving students opportunities to see that any narrative of a field or literary period is to some degree arbitrary, and she is enabling students to work collaboratively to construct their own narrative.     

    • Continuing my comment above, I would say that Mara’s course also exposes students to new ideas by allowing them to rethink the nature of knowledge itself as not objective facts to be memorized but as evolving narratives collaboratively constructed by people in particular discourse communities, like the community she is creating in her own course.     

  • John Broome

  • John Lambertson

    • The course description is clear and concise, and reflects disciplinary norms for art historical methodology and content in a survey course treating art from prehistory to the Gothic.

    • I have never used Canvas, so am unable to comment.

    • See comment under paragraph 2.

    • Art history is the study of images, and therefore PowerPoint is a typical and appropriate presentation software for the discipline.  An online course needs to present the same material as an in class course, so I am glad to see the same image presentations will be used.  Voice over and text are imperative to present art history in an online format, since the image is paramount.  If one were to present a video lecture, one would miss much of the image.  Furthermore, the image needs to be as large as possible to see the salient details that help explain meaning.

    • See comments under general comments.

    • Concept maps are a good way to introduce basic art history content.  One must be careful, however, not to oversimplify complex issues.  They work well for stylistic influences and sources and poorly for cultural meaning.

    • The idea of virtual trips is and excellent and unique component of this course.   This exercise forces students to think about and engage with a specific geographical site and the way in which a site may give a monument meaning.  For instance, this project seems perfect to study the Acropolis in Athens and to demonstrate how the monuments there would have been used in the Panathenaic Procession.  Furthermore, the city of the classical period can be compared to the city of the modern world, explaining patterns of urbanization.

    • Well developed and academically sound internet resources are an essential element in any art history course, as they introduce variety into the educational experience.  In addition to the virtual tour of Amiens (an great idea), there is an excellent web catalogue of the glass at Chartres cathedral, developed at the University of Pittsburgh, that would serve as a good resource for a class project.  Also, Dr. Dreiss may think about introducing the study of media through web resources.  ArtBabble is a great web aggregator that pulls its content from museums like the Getty which have excellent short interactive technical recourse to explain topics like ancient Greek pottery making or medieval manuscript creation.

    • I would use this sparingly, although an occasional online lecture may provide variety.  Students will primarily receive content in the course through voice over presentations from Dr. Dreiss, and I feel that more lecture may make students tired of being “talked to.”  His voice over lectures are the best way to deliver the content as students will have a consistent metanarrative, in my view essential for an introductory course.

    • Whatever technology is used, all professors must remain aware that an online course is not a regular college course.  It may have some advantages for student schedules, but it cannot in reality replace face to face interactions with other students and a professor.

    • The Learning Objectives are appropriate and achievable as the course is planned.

    • I have not used Canvas, so cannot comment on the choice of this platform.

    • I have not used Canvas, but caution that any electronic system is more vulnerable to cheating than a proctored class environment.

    • Any Electronic system is more vulnerable to cheating than a proctored class environment.  I know of rampant cheating in online courses taught through both West Virginia University and the University of Nebraska, and it seems impossible to remove it with the current technology.  Of course, Mary Washington has a proud tradition with an Honor Code, and I think it is important for the university to think about how cheating and any online course affects the Honor Code.  The basic premise of the Honor Code seems antithetical to online learning where the community of learners is not a physical reality.  My comments are in no way a judgment of the merits of Dr. Dreiss’s course.  In fact, his course is a model for online education.

    • There are good values to have chosen.

    • See my comments under paragraph 4.

    • See my comments under paragraph 5.

    • See my comments under paragraph 6.

    • See my comments under paragraph 7.

    • See my comments under paragraph 8.

    • See my comments under paragraph 9.

    • The course content, course goals, assignments, and topics are all appropriate and well planned for an art history survey course.

    • Dr. Dreiss has offered a number of interactive tools to engage students in learning, and he is correct that the course size, availability of students, and background of the students will in large measure determine what works best.

    • Dr. Dreiss has offered a number of interactive tools to engage students in learning, and he is correct that the course size, availability of students, and background of the students will in large measure determine what works best.  I also think that using these tools is an opportunity to model and teach appropriate etiquette in a virtual environment.  Often, students and even younger colleagues, act in inappropriate ways in virtual environments because they feel less accountable.

    • Interactivity would certainly further Learning Objective 2, as a prerequisite to any discussion of the topic is a mastery of the technical vocabulary.

    • The approach to teaching outlined in this section is essential for learning.  Dr. Dreiss taps into student interest which is key to motivating students.  This is of course the generation of hyper-connected students, so it is important to use their interests against them in classes!  Learning is in part discovery, and Dr. Dreiss’s use of the internet will work to the advantage of his students.  I think it is imperative for students to understand good web resources from bad, and this most certainly can be woven into any web project or assignment.

    • I find his explanation compelling.

    • This is a good and standard assignment in many disciplines to encourage reflection.

    • I agree with Dr. Dreiss’s statement that art works are objects that require objective understanding through empirical analysis at the most basic level as well as the idea that art is the product of the human imagination requiring an empathetic and intuitive response on the part of the viewer.  I would also add that intuitive response is also the beginning of interpretation.  What moves the viewer in an art work is a key to meaning in a humanist discipline, which then may be argued with the empirical evidence.  So, Dr. Dreiss is beginning the process of teaching the craft of the art historian and the humanist through this assignment.

    • Yes, he is correct.  See my comment in paragraph 29.

    • The software choice seems fine to me.  The assignment could be share anonymously so that private ideas wouldn’t be associated with an individual, if that is a concern.

    • As I wrote earlier, this is a fine goal.

    • Yes, see my comment under paragraph 28.

    • This seems like a fine choice to me.

    • This course clearly presents an overview of Western art effectively.  It also opens students to new skills, notably visual analysis, and then employs this skill to teach the affective power of art.  This is more than simply providing “culture;” it is a new way of seeing that will have profound affects on students for the rest of their lives.





    • See my comments under paragraph 12.

    • Yes, I agree.  This is a great way to promote active learning, as students can see immediately the results of their learning.  Many years ago Meyer Shapiro said that art history is an old man’s game because it took so long to develop a visual memory through direct observation.  Dr. Dreiss’s approach has of course shortened the widow as students can now explore reproductions on web resources undreamed of just 10 years ago.  This can also sharpen students’ skills of analysis as they compare objects out of class to those studied in class.

    • Yes, I agree.

    • Yes, I agree with this comment

  • John Mariana

    • I’m not familiar with the textbook that Professor Matzke proposes to use, but it seems comprehensive; and his topic selection seems both interesting and thorough.  I suggest two additions (or revisions), however, in my notes on the whole post, in connection with the sections of the document concerned with “Ideas for Building Community” and “Ideas for Building Interactivity”.

    • I agree with Andi.  This looks not only measurable and clear but excellent.

    • I’d suggest that “Exposure to New Ideas” should be added here, particularly in light of paragraphs 12 and 21, both of which imply that two of the interrelated functions of the course are to introduce students to concepts and questions that may be unfamiliar to them, and to enable them to employ these concepts in the formulation of their own positions on questions they may never have considered in any systematic way prior to taking the course.

    • Again I find myself in agreement with Andi.  Professor Matzke does indicate that he will be using Skype as one of three ways for students to contact him, but he hasn’t said enough about the specific technologies, platforms or media he plans to use, or about how these will figure in the coursework and in the delivery and exploration of the course material.  Professor Matzke mentions the success he’s had in the past with interactive or threaded (?) discussion fora, but a course such as this could particularly benefit from a wider variety of modes of interaction, coupled with active reflection on the medium of delivery and interaction itself.  (See my notes on the whole post for elaboration on this point.)

    • This looks excellent.

    • One minor grammatical issue: it seems to me that the last part of the following sentence “In fact, as the students read the introductory texts in this course, they are already being prompted to think critically of the claims made” should read “think critically about the claims made.”

    • The concerns and desiderata identified by Professor Matzke are among those confronting anyone interested in successfully delivering philosophy course online: that it provide all of the benefit of classroom interaction while permitting the flexibility of asynchronous attendance and coursework completion.  And Professor Matzke seems to have handled all of this admirably in his proposal for the design of the course.

      I think Andi is right, however, to say that it could be made a bit clearer both which sorts of technologies and media will be utilized in student (and student-instructor) interaction and how exactly these media will play a role in the delivery and exploration of the course material.  Andi notes (in a comment on paragraph 5) that “particularly for a course focusing on social and political philosophy, adapting to the needs of students who may need the summer to do other things is laudable.”  This is a nice observation, and would seem to me to suggest two ways in which the particular themes of the course could be supplemented, enhanced, and enriched by the further use of additional forms of virtual interaction, coupled with specific reflection on the medium itself as part of the course content.

      What I have in mind is something like the following.  In addition to interactive reflection on each other’s work, and discussion fora, students could – for instance – be encouraged to produce and post video comments and replies that could serve as an asynchronous means of reproducing some of the virtues and reaping the benefits of live debate – particularly for those who could later watch the videos in series and leave their own replies.  Students whose schedules overlap could Skype with each other and record their interaction for comment by others.  The conversation could be carried over to other online fora, such as YouTube, where users are already carrying on philosophical debates through interactive posts.  This can include posting a commentary on a video segment featuring living philosophers whose lectures and symposia are available online.

      This is just one suggestion.  But I would say that the “community-building” aspect of the course that Professor Matzke lists among its values could be enhanced, not only by such additional forms and fora of interaction, but by incorporating some reflection on virtual communities and virtual politics in the content of the course.  In other words, students could be asked to reflect philosophically on the social and political dimensions of the very sort of interaction and community-construction they themselves will be actively engaged in through the course itself.  Time could even be devoted to issues of public access to online resources, both domestically and globally, as well as the international political impacts of restricted access (both for economic and for explicitly political reasons).  Attention could also be given, perhaps, to the Habermasian notion of “communicative action”, and how philosophical debate about the conditions of social life is partly constitutive of that life itself.

      I submit these recommendations entirely and only in the spirit of friendly suggestions, however.  None of this is meant to imply any criticism of the course as Professor Matzke has envisioned it, which in all respects seems to me to be rigorous, challenging and engaging.

  • Jon Meister

    • Having taken this course before, I found this to be an accurate course description. I clearly understand that the student will be learning several approaches used to create a classroom environment which will be most conducive to learning.

    • In this course I remember learning about several management strategist. Will these students learn about those people as well? Or is it within the different objectives that they learn about those people?

    • I see you have select three values and taking the course those three values are very connected to the course.

    • Students may not know the terms “flipped classroom” or “blended course”. The description of content was very useful and allowed me to see what students were required to do and the assessments as well. If I was taking this course over the summer it would have given me a strong preview of what I must do over the 5-week period.

    • This is a great way to build a community within an online course. In education students need to be able to collaborate and having an online course can sometimes hurt that collaboration. However, the techniques you have provided will encourage students to work with each other as well as teachers in their practicum placement.

    • I found this to be a clear and concise response to the question. I enjoyed the small historical reference to education and believe this course will provide a strong community for the student. Having taken this course already I feel that even though it will be presented online students will get the same content as I did.

    • Having students reflect on the material they complete during the online course is a great way to evaluate their progress in class. It allows the students to see the mistakes them made before and grow as teachers. This was one factor of this course that truly helped me in my own classroom. Having a journal is a great way for students reflect after practicum or the online course. It was very clear and concise.

    • I believe you should mention what a flipped classroom in the earlier overall section, but the section on critical thinking was clear and concise. I understand what to expect and the level I will be implementing as the course progresses.

    • Overall, I find this to be a clear overview of what the course is going to provide. I believe it will be a great course and students will be able to read this and expect all responsibilities presented to them. They will read this and know what they have to do in the course.

  • Joshua Kim

    • Great that course is starting on-ground. I wonder how you plan to structure this on-ground setting? Maximizing the on-ground time for community building and student motivation is incredibly important, and difficult, and I wonder what the plan is. Will you be able to push off some of the logistics and course business to “just-in-time” or web-platforms?

    • Does Big Blue Button support break-out groups? Synchronous sessions are terrific, but definitely have a steep learning curve for design and running. Making these sessions interactive, and getting the right mix of faculty / guest speaker synthesis and discussion / group-work is a challenge.

    • I love this “open-book ‘geographic detective work’ exercises”…..a great way to meet all the values of community, interactivity, active learning…etc.

    • Perhaps compliment the closed book quizzes with open book formative quizzes that students can take (and re-take to a certain floor) prior to the summative assessment.

    • For the course blog assignments you may find that you need to be more directive in what you ask your students to post. For instance, rather than instructing them to “ask a question” or “make a comment” – you might thing about having them make an argument (backed up by evidence) or to take an opposing view. It also may be necessary to be clear about how many student posts they must offer responses. For your Twitter work, maybe create a #hashtag for your course and have students post as well. Be sure to provide Twitter training materials and some help, as many students will be stressed about this and not have Twitter experience. Finally, can the Twitter feeds be integrated back into Canvas?

    • How exciting for students to be taught by a roaming professor who is teaching about the places being visited. I love the concept…and have never heard of this before.

      The online environment should make the course structure more egalitarian, and therefore encourage debate, disagreement and back and forth.

    • When you say you will moderate the comments on the external class blog, does this mean that they will not go up until you approve? I understand this instinct, but just a thought is to turn this into a “teaching opportunity” by taking some time to set out your objectives “civility, respect, professionalisms” etc. – and let the students come up with the ideas and governance for how they will be met. Maybe they will choose to have faculty moderated posts, but maybe not.

    • Feedback plan (and motivation for feedback) sounds great. When giving feedback try to keep in mind some of what we have learned about how students can absorb critique. The best method is to start your feedback with concise, direct and actionable critiques. Don’t sugar coat to start. Then end your feedback with positive encouragement, questions etc.

    • I think that this is wonderful how you emphasize “learning how to learn”…..how this goal is woven into your teaching philosophy and course design.

    • Thank you for the opportunity to review this excellent proposal. I think that this will be a great class, and it is wonderful to read how Professor Rallis plans to translate the key values of the UMW Online Learning Initiative into his course.

      The fact that the course is taught by a roving professor, incorporating real time observations from the places being visited into the curriculum, makes this course particularly exciting and innovative.

      The suggestions I make below include thinking about including more formative assessment as well as some thoughts around techniques for collaboration and analytical work through the blog tools. These suggestions are fairly minor, and may already be part of the learning plan that Professor Rallis has laid out.

      This is a course that I’d love to take.

      One suggestion is to think about incorporating alumni into such a course. Most institutions (including my own) lead foreign trips with faculty for alumni, usually done in conjunction with a development campaign. Not every alumni can afford the costs for such a trip, but many people may be interested in doing so virtually.

  • Kelly Donahue-Wallace

    • Objective 4 is vague and will be understood differently by different constituencies. For example, a studio persion may understand complexity to mean complex techniques of manufacturing. “Appreciation” is also an unmeasurable outcome. A possible revision, if I understand the objective, would be “Explain and analyze works of art as reflections of complex social, political, economic, and cultural contexts.”

    • Reading quizzes in an online environment are tricky. Are they open-book, since an online class has a hard time limiting access to textbook and other online materials unless using a testing center. The short question type common in art history multiple choice quizzes (“Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco illustrates stories from the _____”) does not ensure that they read the chapter, much less understand its content. One strategy is to include a percentage of questions that apply learned information to new contexts and unknown images. “Based on what you have read, this image represents a story from the _____.”

    • I like the small chunks of spoken, illustrated content idea to deliver and reinforce key concepts. Short, sweet, and effective.

    • An important decision to make in an online class is what is responsible for the primary content delivery: textbook or instructor (as in spoken, written, or video lecture). If it is the textbook, the instructor’s role shifts to helping students to work through the chapters and their content, not introducing new ideas/materials/images (other than unknowns on a quiz). If it is the lecture (the instructor’s expert take on the material), what is the role of the textbook and does it need to be the big approx. $175 book? One lesson I learned it that you have to make it absolutely clear to online students which is the content authority in the course, placing the other in a much-reduced supporting role.

    • Since I don’t know UMW’s online student population, this may be a moot point, but requiring synchronous participation can be difficult. For example, I have had students on active military duty in my classes. Not only does the time difference to Afghanistan interfere, but also their job requirements. If you are allowing distance learners into the course, concessions have to be made for their schedules.

      Another hiccup is the add/drop period at most schools. If the intro meeting is mandatory, it can’t be during a period when students can add late. And, you can’t really hold off allowing students to get started until after the add/drop period since you’ll have students chomping at the bit to get going in the course.

      I would also recommend separating the technology/practices meeting and the introduction to the course content meeting, and making them available for asynchronous viewing. Otherwise, you will end up either failing students or repeating your intro meeting for them individually.

    • I recommend that you build in timing for the students. Here’s the problem: if a group is teaching each other, providing feedback, and/or working together, what happens when they all (or most of them) put it off until just before the deadline? This is a reality of online students. If the group has a check-in deadline by which something has to be completed (i.e., post a question and provide feedback to a teammate), then a final deadline, you can avoid some of this bottle neck.

    • I recommend having a list of types of museums to visit (i.e., historic homes, court houses, etc.) for those in distant rural communities. Likewise, how will you deal with a physically impaired student who cannot leave the house (Disabilities Accommodation form required)? It is important as we set up online courses that we don’t create them to sound open to diverse populations, then put up barriers to their participation and success.

    • See above comment about rural or physically challenged students. Beware of activities that disadvantage a population of the class. If, for example, 75% of the class can go to the museum together and therefore enjoy greater exposure to and contact with you (not to mention whatever points might be associated with it), how will that impact those who cannot?

    • You will need to prepare an alternate assignment for those who do not have this access, but one that does not bring their physical limitation to their classmates’ attention. (i.e., everyone posts a museum painting, but one student has a photo of something in his/her home).

    • Overall, this is a strong course and certainly reflects the standards of the discipline

    • Overall, this is a strong course and reflects the standards of the discipline as well as concessions to a general education audience (adding fun, which art historians rarely seek!). As the proposing author develops the course, she will run into the typical challenges of online course structure. Fortunately, there is good literature available (though little in our discipline) to help with addressing these.

      I would definitely

    • (continued from above comment)

      recommend this class go forward.

      In online classes, structure is key: how will each unit begin and end? will you control access via date or grade? how will you keep students working and moving forward when you don’t see them 2-3 times per week, since giving a failing grade doesn’t work as motivator when a student never logs in to the class? What kinds of help documentation will you provide? And so on.

    • This is directed to the administrators approving the course: the smaller Prof. Och can keep this class, the better. Hopefully UMW values small class size, but if not, every piece of evidence suggests that small online classes are the key to success, both for the instructor and for the students.

  • Kelvin

    • It will be important to be clear (for oneself and with the students) about the relationship between the online discussions and these other opportunities (e.g., UMW Blogs and Voicethread) for interaction/reflection.

    • Good balance between institutional LMS and other web-based tools. However, it will, of course, be important to scaffold the use of any tools with which students have little to no familiarity. I assume that you will clarify for students the purpose behind each tool(set).

    • Seeing the syllabus is helpful.

      The plugins page referenced in the syllabus seems to be to a page maintained by Connecticut Community College. I’m sure you’ve already done so, but it is important to verify that the specific plugin versions available on the linked site work with the current version of Canvas. Similarly, the software available on the “Updated Browsers” page should be checked for compatibility with Canvas to avoid unintentional technical problems for students.

      At the risk of splitting hairs, the following statement appears in the syllabus: “This course will be delivered entirely online through the ‘Canvas’ course management system.” This may be confusing for some students given that a subsequent statement includes various non-LMS tools. Alternative wording might be desirable.

      Framing “Collaboration/Participation” as “attendance” might be sending the wrong message given the emphasis on active learning and interaction you are stressing elsewhere. Perhaps this is addressed more fully inside Canvas, but perhaps some wording changes are warranted in the syllabus if collaboration/participation beyond present/absent are desired. I assume that collaboration/participation refer primarily to either online discussions (Canvas) and/or blog comments (UMW Blogs). However, this is not completely clear to me in the syllabus.

      The table articulating connections between learning objectives and learning activities is very helpful! (Should it have a heading?)

      The Course Schedule makes no mention of either online discussions or expectations for commenting to the blogs (reading reflections) of others. Given the detail with which other activities are listed in the Schedule, I would suggest including all activities in the Schedule. Also, the phrase “Last Class to Submit School Board Meeting Paper” might be misleading to students if you actually mean that the Week 15 due date is the deadline. (I assume that this does not refer to an actual face-to-face class meeting.)

      I’m curious about the face-to-face final exam requirement. Is there a particular reason why the exam could not be presented online to students? What message does a f2f requirement for only this one course component send to students?

    • Where/how will students be introduced to these various technologies associated with specific activities? Are all of these activities required/graded or are some optional?

    • How will you frame expectations for student peer comments to the blogged reading reflections? Are these required (i.e., either for “check off” or for grade)?

      Online discussions (within Canvas) are mentioned elsewhere. Do these contribute in any way to building a learning community? I do not see them mentioned in this section.

    • To what extent will interaction be assured vs. assumed in the learning activities? For the group-based activities, how will contributions of the individual be evaluated?

    • Selecting (free, web-based) tools that students can bring into their own K12 classrooms is important! Good for you! :-)

      Given the proclivity for K12 districts to block Web2.0 tools, to what extent are you assured that your students’ districts allow access to these tools?

      One strategy to mitigate such problems is to provide alternatives (where possible) for each function/tool so that students have options. Just a thought. :-)

    • Despite the culture within colleges of education to “reflect students to death” (a paraphrase from one of my recent graduate students), how will you help students get to deeper levels of personal reflection (and peer review) within their blog postings and comments?

      One model I’ve found useful for adapting in my rubrics for reflection assignments is Peter Pappas’ Taxonomy of Reflection for Students. It is modeled on Bloom’s Taxonomy. See http://www.peterpappas.com/2010/01/reflective-student-taxonomy-reflection.html

    • I had similar thoughts vis-a-vis themes of self-directed learning in other sections of the proposal. FYI.

    • One can be overly ambitious in requiring participation “at various times throughout the week.” It is do-able, but just bear in mind that the more moving parts there are within the week in an online course, the more explicit one has to be with instructions/supporting resources. In general it is often a good idea to provide a bit more delay in a fully online course than in a completely f2f or blended course. If there are going to be multiple due dates each week, it is a good idea to keep this “rhythm” throughout the term so that students depend upon it.

      In what ways will students make their own decisions in/about these activities, reflections, and discussions? How can you give them (or help them find) more of a personal “voice” in/through these activities?

  • Kolar

    • The department requirements for this course indicate that students must learn SPSS in this course. Excel is fine too, but SPSS is what the students need to go on to the next course in this sequence as well as other courses in the major.

    • Based on my reading of the guidelines for what an on-line/hybrid course should like, this course seems to meet the criteria. One potential concern is that many of the objectives are met via one part of the course: the critical thinking exercise. So it is important that the critical thinking component of the course is clearly explained and well understood by the students in order for them to get what they should out of this exericise. But the course seems to cover the 5 values espoused in the guidelines.

  • Leslie Lindballe (@onepercentyello)

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      I have decided to include all my notes on reading this proposal. I read each paragraph looking for instances of the 5 core values and used contributions from the various interviews I have been conducting to flesh out the concepts behind those values. I hope my comments are useful to your process.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      self-directed learning – requiring students to have their own platform
      interactivity – connecting students with the conversation on the larger web
      community – placing the classroom in an open web space is equal to holding class in the town square – community happens around, through and in the course.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      I think this interrogation could be brought more into the fore of the investigation of the course. ds106 is a unique course and could benefit by giving space to asking what all this means. What does it mean to not only build but tend to an online self? What is the interplay between a digital and analogue self? How does the construction of a digital self affect how we frame our analogue lives? What does presence look like? What is authenticity?

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      One of my own difficulties with #eci831 was the lack of course direction before the synchronous events. A class wiki was provided, but readings were not put up until after the speakers came to class. Perhaps a wiki with a bare minimum of introductory readings (or other media) with the expectation that students will contribute the resources they find to the growing list. Canon is an important grounding tool for students to gain confidence in self-direction.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      Reflecting on the process is a part of this but is there a “baked-in” aspect of critical reflection? For example, thinking about the traditional voices excluded from storytelling and searching out or thinking through the voices that are absent from the digital storytelling space (ie. majority world access). Who is absent from contributing to the ‘gray matter’?

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      I love how students have the option to write an assignment if they don’t find one in the bank that suits their fancy. This type of ownership is one of the great by-products of active learning. Combined with inter-activity and community it is a tangible way for students to see themselves a participants in their own learning – as subject/objects of history rather than simply objects of history.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      Interaction, presence and feedback are keys to inter-activity, community and self-building. Perhaps a mention of participant/observer methodology could help position this process in relation to further studies.
      In the trust/community/authenticity vein, some sort of an assignment examining how we observe and comment on other’s digital artifacts. How do we treat each other online? What is the ‘hater’ syndrome? How do we promote empathy in the digital world where anonymity is still possible?

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      While I see how this course brings “the logic of culture back into teaching and learning” and models how to be a member in the global community, I am concerned with authenticity and trust. Is there a specific reading/video/talk that speaks to students of that initial disorienting post that begins to establish identity and opens the door to community? Perhaps an assignment for the bank that asks students to go out and look at the Hello World posts of others and identifies some of the feelings people encounter when they step off the plane into this digital culture…

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      How do the conferences work? Are these one-on-one meetings? Are there any group synchronous sessions? During my experience with #eci831, I found it difficult to connect with my fellow for-credit students as there was such a large community participating. The special tagging for students will help, but perhaps special attention could be paid to connecting for-credit students.

      Will you have skype hours as well? One of my own big pushes from attending Athabasca.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      I love the idea of examining the way that various technologies affect the story.

      The second two objectives are very closely tied to the actual activities of the course – the creation of your website, artifacts, etc. – while the first seems more theoretical in nature. Are you planning on providing some direction in resources that can guide students in examining these questions? I see Gardner Campbell’s talk on the syllabus, but there are no other resources listed. How will you encourage/ensure students to think deeply on these questions?

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      This paragraph addresses all the values nicely. Building an identity is active and of course, self-directed. Reflection is built into the narration of the process of developing this identity and a global community is created by interaction between students and beyond.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 14th, 2011

      What a snazzy site, Martha!! I like how the tutorials aspect engages both active learning and inter-activity.

  • Libby Backman

    • I think the idea of a wiki or a blog where students are ‘publishing’ this information and their reflections it is a great interactive idea. I wonder if you could encourage students to take this more seriously by using this website to help students in another class, such as pollution prevention planning, gain access to a consolidated source of policy information.

    • This project was effective in the classroom, where we had time to work with our groups, and give a prepared pitch in front of the class. There was a lot of meeting and planning involved in preparation, which seems difficult to recreate in an online environment. There are many online tools that can produce visually stimulating presentations that could make this project effective, but I worry that, by being online, this project will not be as conducive to creating a cohesive group project.

    • Will these discussion questions be graded for thoughtfulness and effort to ensure students participate on a deeper level?

    • This assignment is a good way to get students to use some of the excellent online environmental tools available. It would be nice if there could be a place where the students could see what everyone had put up for these. This would allow students to compare regions, and see what conclusions other students had drawn.

    • I think this is a great idea that will really help tie the project together in the end, as well as aid in the establishment of community when the students are able to reflect on what their classmates have taught them in their own projects.

    • The idea of filling in a PowerPoint skeleton sounds like it could be borderline busy work. But if the questions spark up a good discussion, it should be a good tool.

    • I think that a cool way to increase active learning would be to have a series of debates. If students were assigned a side to debate, they would have to look at the issue from all sides, which would help them form a stronger understanding of the topic. I think it would also help foster interactivity, and community building.

    • I think that at the beginning of the course you should make sure this is deliberately spelled out to the students. Make sure they know that this is what you mean by class participation, the requirements for an A in participation, and how important their contributions are to the class.

    • This was a fun way to start off the class. It helped show how often we come across the topic of environmental regulations. I think it will be a great activity to start up the discussion board.

    • Students can determine what a good response is once they have had some personalized feedback. What will happen if there are times when no individual critique is supplied by the class discussion?

  • Louis Martinette

  • Macewen

  • maoch

    • Thank you, Kelly, for these questions. I found that online quizzes (which I never used before last semester) were a great way to keep students on target with the readings and their exam grades were much improved over previous semesters. They were working throughout the semester, not just at exam time.
      Yes, Melanie, the syllabus needs a complete overhaul. I didn’t have tome to do that for this review.
      I’m thinking about a final project that requires students to create an online survey “book” of works not in Janson that address styles, etc. covered over the course of the semester. This would replace the final exam. I’m looking to see that they understand concepts. There’s no way I can monitor exams, and I do want the course o be entirely online.

    • Thank you.

    • Good point! Thanks, Melanie.

    • Good point. When possible, I bring in contemporary artists whose work is within and against work we are considering. For example, when looking at 17th- and 18th-c. European art, I introduce Yinka Shonibare: http://yinkashonibarembe.com/. I love his work. His photographs and assemblages allow the class to “see” the baroque state portrait and Rococo frivolity, as well as Hogarth and so much more, from a different angle. it’s an important opportunity, also, for a discussion of colonialism and an 18th-c. global commerce.

    • The quizzes are open book. In the past I’ve only had midterm, final, paper, and participation grades. The exams consisted of 5 ids, 5-10 definitions, and heavily weighted essays (at least 60%). Students complained that there were too few grades. In the face to face class, I see the quizzes as: 1) a way to give students more grades (but not too much more work for me with a 4/4 teaching load), and 2) a way to insure that they were at the least opening the book! I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I must admit, however, I’m not a great quiz question writer. So the learning curve for me is a big one, and I’ve been generous since I’m learning this. If the class is small, I will include the more obvious types of quiz questions but add questions that require short essay-type answers.

    • Thanks, Carolyn, this is important insight.

    • Great questions/observations all. And I’ll get back to you on this!

    • This is correct. I’ve not had time to rework this. In part, I wanted to see what responses were to this, and see what others are doing for synchronous meetings, etc. I’m still not sure about the technology I’ll be using. I agree that keeping thing simple will be best. I also want to introduce new tools to students that they might be able to use in other courses or on their jobs.

    • Good question. Martha? Jim? How am I going to do this?

    • Absolutely.

    • Yes, I’m referring to that intro work. Sorry for the confusion. It’s so good to see where the confusions are.

    • 1-13. These are clear statements that present an overview of what is important in this course. A student should be able to check her or his learning/progress through the course by referring to this list. References to online sources are important. FYI: Some of these have periods and some do not.
      7. Add “of” in first line. Will there be a statement regarding what the “sub-disciplines” of geography are?

    • An introductory class on campus will limit the course to those students in Fredericksburg (at least for this part of the semester). Is there a benefit to a UMW campus meeting if there is only one? What will be covered in this meeting? Content as well as online-related matters? It might be useful to hold this class in a computer lab.

    • A three-hour synchronous meeting sounds difficult. Will your connections be certain for this period? Sorry…I know you’ve thought about this, but I’m remembering the minor difficulties we had in the group seminar last summer. Again, this might limit enrollment to those who can manage this commitment.
      Donald, in response to your post of 2/9/12: I’m not sure about breakouts, but I’m a fan of VoiceThread for small group discussions. An entire class can be invited to a discussion to watch/listen or participate, or these could be kept to a few people.

    • Re. online research: Will you offer guidance on which type of sources are good/appropriate? Ie. is Wikipedia or “My summer in XXX” ok? I think Google Earth might offer something here for communicating space, distances, geographic features, physical communication/transportation.
      I’ve been using Canvas quizzes, and love them. I’m not sure how to do what you want to do. You may need to “allow” a student to re-take the quiz, but I’m not sure how straightforward it is to do this with a different point system.
      I love the fact that these are “learning experiences rather than assessment tools.”

    • Again, perhaps Google Earth might be a good tool for the students to create their own maps and make connections. Can these be shared? Sent to you?

    • I have to admit, I don’t know many of the tools you are referring to and want to learn about these. I’m hoping a few workshops are in our future.
      Grading/evaluating students’ comments on a blog can be difficult. This semester I’m offering this as “Participation” credit (along with visits to museums, other talks, etc.). This is quite open, and I’ve had thoughtful (but brief) responses. Perhaps part of the technology training offered to students (will there be a single site for this for all of us?) could be examples of what kind of responses you’re looking for (and not looking for?).

    • I agree with Sarah. This is great! And I’m sure there will be surprises.

    • I wonder if, in an online environment, students will be more or less likely to share ideas with others in the class? They may not be sitting with friends, as often happens in face to face classes, so they may have a greater sense of independent thinking. Is there some neutral, even non-course-related idea you could present to your students at the start of the class to get them to take a position? If they have gone through the motions of a debate, developing an argument, seeing another’s views on a neutral topic, it may come more comfortably when the issue may be hot.

    • I think we will all encounter this. I’m looking forward to a post-course discussion of this. And influences on our face to face teaching.

    • How might students be invited to reflect on their personal experiences? They have to feel safe about this. Perhaps anonymity here?

    • Are you considering peer feedback? (with guidelines)

    • Donald, this is such a interesting course. I wonder if part of the class reading couldn’t be the Washington Post/NYT and an English-language paper from someplace else.

  • Marcel Rotter

  • Marie

    • Angie, I’m not sure who the target audience is here, but it it’s students, you need to make this sound sexier. (Bullet point one confused me, too–wording issue.)

    • Sounds cool!

    • I might make the final project more ambitious; it sounds slightly less exciting than some of the previous activities and assignments.

    • Not as exciting as others.

    • Definitely interesting!

    • A lot of these exercises emphasize visual approaches; I’d like some discussion somewhere in this proposal of why that’s a particularly helpful approach.

    • John Broome’s question is a key one. Can you find a way to incorporate sound, images, or ways for dictionary users to interact?

    • I’d love to see some way for this to incorporate the larger issue of why learning the Latin and Greek roots of words matters. Why would an English speaker benefit from learning this material and playing with language this way? It would be great if students could reflect explicitly on exigency here, so they understand why their work matters. It would also be great if they could find ways to sell the web users of the world on the benefits of using their dictionary.

      Your proposal might want to discuss what resources already in existence would seem to be competitors with the proposed Dictionary. Ideally, students would feel that they’re creating something new that might really be useful to some group of people in the real world: students, the general public, scholars . . .

    • I should have said this the first time this came up, but I love the idea of allowing students to explore words in a particular field (or fields) in depth. The philosopher who plays the bassoon and knits might end up with quite a different list from the English major who plays rugby and vacations in Scotland!

    • “Perceptions of the world” is an important concept here, and one I’d love to see followed through in subsequent parts of the proposal. Susan Drummond’s idea here is also excellent.

  • Martha

    • Dave,

      I certainly understand that a debate can happen anywhere, but one nice thing about Squabbler is that it allows students to record video of their positions very easily. This can allow for students to have a hand at oral presentation in an online class — a tricky thing to foster. In addition, Squabbler forces them to b succinct and focused (there is a time limit on the videos) and it allows other people to view, comment, and respond to their positions, which is tough to do in a locked-down CMS.

  • Martha Burtis

    • I think this is an interesting concept, that if used carefully, could be very effective. In particular, I think if you introduced and contextualized pieces of other lectures (so that it is clear they are being framed within your own course) it could be useful.

    • The syllabus does a nice job of laying out the breadth of topics being covered in the course, but I fear it doesn’t do an adequate job of describing students’ experiences in the course. You’ve mentioned much in this proposal in terms of what students will be doing that isn’t reflected in the syllabus. In an online course, I think this is critical. The syllabus really becomes a roadmap for their experience of the course. In a face-to-face class, you have all kind of opportunities to guide them through the experience. Often, we don’t even think about how much informal guidance we are constantly providing in a face-to-face class. But with an online course, that all can disappear (particularly if you don’t want to be answering constant emails from students about what they are supposed to do next). I would encourage you to modify/expand your syllabus so that it more clearly reflects the progression of a student through the course: on a daily/weekly basis what will they be working on? For example:

      Monday: View the Aegean Art Powerpoint/Lecture

      Tuesday: Review the weekly concept map, in particular pay attention to X, Y, and Z.

      Wednesday: Review the terms of the week.

      Thursday: Use the Google Art Project to visit XXX exhibit in YYY gallery. Reflect on the experience by doing ZZZZZ.

      Friday: Complete the course mid-term in Canvas.

      I’m not suggesting that each week needs to be entirely prescriptive, but I do think even a bullet point of activities/actions that students need to complete will help.

    • One way to try and discourage cheating on online exams is to think differently about the kinds of questions you ask. Instead of multiple choice or basic short answer, you may need to come up with questions that get at application of ideas and critical thinking. This makes it harder for students to simply look things up during exam time. You could also ask them to relate an answer to something they’ve seen or considered earlier in the course as part of a course assignment — this makes it harder for someone else to “stand in” for a student.

    • It would be neat to use something like Reddit for this — where students could submit resources they’ve found, upvote each others findings, and comment upon them (if they choose).


    • It would be neat to use something like Reddit for this — where students could submit resources they’ve found, upvote each others findings, and comment upon them (if they choose).

    • I agree this sounds like a really intriguing idea — particularly in terms of outcomes assessment.

    • I love the idea of students incrementally building this report — and the fact that everyone’s report then becomes visible to everyone else.

    • I love that you’ve taken the time to mock-up the environment in Canvas, and I look forward to working with you to flesh out some of these components!

    • One advantage of Connect is that it does allow you to screenshare so that you can walk students through problems they’re having — a concern raised by another reviewer earlier.

    • I wonder if this is an opportunity to build a library of short videos/tutorials about how to use each database, that can then be re-used in future iterations of the course, or even by other users of the database(s). It would be neat to actually have students help develop these at some point.

    • I tend to agree — these sound to me like (another version of) course objectives? I’d like to see something more descriptive of the experience of the course, perhaps by explaining what kinds of activities will lead to “extrapolation” for example. This may be a more stylistic preference, however. I know different faculty think of “course description” differently.

    • I think we’ve talked about this during the summer workshops, but the synchronous events could present issues for some students. Since online classes aren’t listed with a specific time/day of the week, it’s impossible to guarantee that every student will be available at a particular time. And, depending on the number of students you have, you may find it difficult to find a day/time that works for everyone. Just a reminder that you may need to have a contingency plan for these situations.

    • Stephanie and John’s comments about clarity and consistency are good — very often this is where online students get tripped up. What seems obvious to you (i.e. the meaning of “synchronous” or the timing of events) will not be as obvious to them.

    • Stephanie’s point is a good one — I know you have a quiz the first week for students to prove that they’ve created accounts. I’ve found it can also be helpful to ask students to demonstrate basic capability in a technology by asking them to do something early on. That way you can catch the ones who are struggling with it early on.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 19th, 2013

      One advantage to using something other than Canvas is that it gives you a bit more freedom in terms of making the class open and incorporating other resources. Canvas has some great features for embedding other content, but the options are still (necessarily) limited compared to what you can do with a “home-grown” course. An approach that some previous OLI faculty have taken is to build a course-site outside of Canvas for sharing resources, aggregating student work , etc. but then still requiring students to submit their work via Canvas’ authenticated system.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 19th, 2013

      I encourage you to take a look at the video of the Accessibility workshop that we conducted this fall for advice about captioning videos (or at least making a transcript/notes available for students who may have difficulty accessing and using the video. You can find it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAR7VhxSoFU

      Look forward to seeing what you come up with for the wiki and timeline — there are neat projects!

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 19th, 2013

      I wouldn’t necessarily assume you can’t successfully use multiple spaces to teach the class — previous OLI faculty have done this well. The trick is in clearly communicating to students where they go to find different resources and then being consistent in your use of the different spaces.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 19th, 2013

      Since one of the goals of the Presidential Approval assignment is to have students get used to using/researching peer reviewed articles in online journal databases, I encourage you to work with your subject area reference librarian (who I think is Abbie Basile?) before the class to talk about the best way to point online students to these resources and support their search activities.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 19th, 2013

      I think another thing to consider in terms of the interplay between the online delivery and this particular goal is how students can be empowered through the use of online publishing to create and share their own ideas and knowledge. In the past, an assignment like the what you’re doing with the wiki would be done in a paper that, probably, only the student and his/her teacher would read. What happens when that knowledge sharing/creating is happening in the open with the potential of a larger audience? How does this raise the stakes and force us to reconsider the notion of learning, particularly life-long learning? Are you providing your students with opportunities to think about self-determined learning and knowledge creation in a different way than you could have done with a traditional paper? (I think you are.) And, if so, what can you do to make those higher stakes seem as visible and vital as possible to your students?

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 19th, 2013

      I agree that thinking about how you grade this “different” kind of writing (and communicating those expectations to your students) might be helpful. I also would argue that this kind of short-form writing is more-and-more the kind of writing we do for the Web. It often gets dismissed on the Web, suggesting that the shortness of the form is linked to an overall lack of seriousness or value. I love the idea of challenging this. Writing for the Web often requires us to be more direct and succinct. How can we do that well?

  • Mary Kayler

    • Ditto on comments above. A nice component to your course.  Could students design a virtual tour?

    • I would encourage you to spend some time and think about your ‘big questions’ in terms of what you hope students ‘take away’ from your course. In what ways, if any, did X support your understanding of X or Read over the course objectives.  How well did you do and what evidence do you have to support your assessment? These types of questions can really inform from the students perspective glimpse into their learning experiences.

    • There are lots of models and definitions of active learning and Gary’s LCME model is one model.  Sometimes having student engage in active learning can be a shift from traditional instructional practices and requires our (faculty) willingness to share power. I have found that faculty cover the spectrum in terms of sharing power and often begin in smaller ways (and not necessarily a bad thing) in order to get our feet wet and see how it goes.  I encourage you to follow what ‘feels right’ for you at this point and take a critical look at the experience and see how you might adapt/revise the next time.

    • Awesome factor here!  Love this!

    • You might want to consider posting up some general questions to guide students reading/listening to your videos/readings to help them scaffold their understandings.

    • Another way that might be helpful to frame your learning objectives would be to think about your course assignments and what they are designed to do. That might help you flesh out your broader goals in terms of “knowing’ and ‘having familiarity with.’

    • good points Ryan.

    • I particularly like this assignment and the opportunity you have created for students to see and respond to each others findings.  Do you have a sense in the level of student response you are looking for? Good job or something more substantial? You may want to briefly address your expectations for this.

    • I like that you have infused metacognition in your course as it is often an overlooked element that in some ways limits students with opportunities to think about your own development.

    • I like that you are using a variety of platforms in your course. As potential teachers the need for experience, practice, and reflection on these tools provides an authentic experience that they will face in K-12 classrooms. I also feel it sends the message that new technologies will always be emerging and it is better to explore and learn rather than avoid something new.

    • Love your work in ‘bridging the divide’!

    • Ditto to the comments above. A really, nice, well-designed course that clearly supports student learning and offers them a variety of tools and models to approach teaching.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on December 3rd, 2013

      I have used my own course website and used Canvas for students to submit their assignments for one course.  I would encourage you to be explicit in directing students to Canvas for submitting their assignments; there is sometimes confusion as to where/which site they should use.  Advantages: one central site to review/provide feedback/grade student work. It is easy to locate and keep track of student progress in Canvas. Disadvantages: Using an additional site seemed (to me at least) to distract from the course website and students commented on having to use two sites instead of one central website. Not a huge deal but something students noted in their course feedback.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on December 3rd, 2013

      I second Martha’s comment. Clear and consistent communication about uploading work/assignments makes this approach doable.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on December 3rd, 2013

      I particularly like your ‘active student’ engagement slice of your course.  Martha raises some key questions and I would encourage you to solicit student feedback that might help you determine the benefits or ‘so what’ of engaging students in this type of work.  I can easily imagine that this aspect of your course will clearly bring benefits (not only to course content knowledge) to developing real life capacities in your students.  You should think about and consider publishing an article on this pedagogical approach :)

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on December 3rd, 2013

      I like this assignment and think it might be helpful for you to have an example or two to help then ‘see’ what this would look like.  I have often resisted providing models at times as I wanted students to construct their own understandings.  I have found that when I provided a model or two it didn’t limit student creativity; a model saves students time in that they can see and understand what a ‘good assignment’ would look like and this can in some ways free them up to be creative instead of spending time and energy in ‘figuring out’ what this would look like. Visuals might be a nice element to add to this assignment as well.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on December 3rd, 2013

      How will you know if students are “creative in using evidence to analyze policy, predict elections, and determine….”   How will your online course support this and in what ways? You might want to think about a variety of ways you could support students along the way so that they are able to engage in this level of analysis.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on December 3rd, 2013

      Ditto on the comments mentioned.  Will there be any opportunities for students to have an ‘authentic’ web audience (outside the wiki) for these shorter assignments?  Could/should they post up a blog?  Respond to someone’s blog post?  Other ideas?  Will students respond to each other in these shorter assignments?

  • Mary R. McHugh

    • Ditto Susan Drummond’s comments above.  Although this part of the course description is driven by learning objectives, one can see how  self-directed learning works hand-in-glove with other of the objectives. For example, a student takes the initiative to use (perhaps newly familiar) resources materials to investigate the answer to a question that arises out of natural curiosity (self-directed learning) and shares her findings with others in a classroom format (interactivity). The professor’s introduction of the resources, perhaps modeling such an investigation, and the availability of those resources help to facilitate active learning.

    • It’s great you are taking such care with pronunciation. I’ve found that students’ access to correct pronunciation guides through recordings or webcasts outside of class allows them to review and practice pronunciation on their own, which allows them the time and independence necessary for mastery in this area.

      I am not familiar with “Go Animate!”, but I like the idea of making the material visual (and not just as words) and interactive.

    • I like that you are interested in student-directed activities to create learning applications for themselves and others.  These will necessarily emerge from and reflect individual learning styles and preferences.  In asking students to reflect on effective pedagogical methods, they may also learn much about themselves.  This exercise may also help in the development of empathy, an important quality, by asking each student to put herself in the shoes of another learner to determine what activities are most effective for various styles of learners.  This could be a very effective way to develop an aggregate of activities that might be used over the history of the course.

    • Excellent ideas to make the material the students’ own, especially the specific examples you mention in your syllabus.

  • Mason

    • clear statement of course

      covers the nature of an introductory course of the first half of survey of Western Art.



    • Canvas serves a good platform for online learning. Dr. Driess show’s knowledge and experience with using it for his classes.

    • Voice over for Powerpoints allows students to visually focus on the art works while listening to information provided by Dr. Driess.

    • With the emergence of great online resources, it is possible to teach art history in new and more hands on way, allowing students to explore the information on their own terms.

    • The ability to use online educational resources is especially helpful in an Art History course, due to Art History based around the study of objects. With most of these object being unreasonably difficult to see in person, these new online resources allow for greater understanding of the physical qualities of art objects and the geographic location of important buildings.

    • I think focusing on the online resources that expand on the Powerpoints and voice overs would be better then extra lectures. If a particularly valuable one comes across it can be a nice addition, but I don’t think having extra lectures would be necessary.

    • EtherPad would be a great tool for an online class, being able to use it to have class discussions that fit to student’s schedules

    • Just what a survey class should try and accomplish

    • Using something students would be familiar with is a good condsideration

    • Since students will not be in a classroom environment, it will be important to have extra teaching aids to make up for not being able to ask questions in class and having to learn the material on their own

    • Appropriate choices and goals with Art History

    • Including terms with each section will be helpful to students so they can further understand what information is the emphasized and is the most important

    • Hopefully there can be a time that all students will be able to meet on a web conference. May be difficult to find a good time, but potentially a good opportunity to further the learning experience.


      Goal of helping students interact with others and the art definitely achievable in these circumstances.

    • Focusing on students finding material that interests them is a much better use of student’s time and the professors. Having students focus on what they want to learn and encouraging them to share this information with the rest of the class is a great feature to draw in students who have some interest into having a greater one and potentially getting disengaged students engaged.

    • Good choice to stick to EtherPad, much more convenient then GoogleDocs for this course

    • Using the students to crowdsource more images and information into the class not only brings in more great information, but can also increase student interest by seeing their classmates who are excited about sharing material for the course.

    • Where will the be doing this? Online for others to see like blog posts?

    • Making students engage with the art will heighten both their understanding of the art work, but will also improve their ability to speak about art. Developing how to communicate about something is the only way someone can learn how to appreciate something and share with others.

    • Should be the goal in every survey class

    • could be a possible blog posting assignment, but if the concern is for students not having to feel anxious about sharing thoughts on art it would be fine for them to be just between the student and professor.

    • Yes, all of this things are vital to get across and I think there are ways in this course to achieve them. Don’t forget how much fun art can be, a highly pleasurable experience.

    • Questionnaires could be a useful resource for students, but also serve as a great resource for Dr. Driess to see how many students became more engaged with artworks.

    • Course is not only a great overview of the first half of the history of Western Art, but also a great course in allowing students to be changed by art and the happiness it can bring if it is part of the students lives.

    • yes, correct

    • I think there is a form section on canvas that could be used for this. If not GoogleDocs allows for forms to be made that non-Google-users can still submit answers to

  • mburtis

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 7th, 2011

      Do you want to add a learning objective that is specific to the kind of literacy students will be developing in this course: visual, media, digital, etc?

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 7th, 2011

      I like the idea of using tagging to provide a way to more specifically filter and find student work.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 7th, 2011

      Might be worth thinking about how to formalize the “tutorial” type of resources that students will be creating as a component of their active learning — creating resources for others to use further reinforces the learning that is happening when they create their own work.

    • For some reason, I’m having trouble parsing the last learning objective. How about: “Describe the crucial role assessment plays in student achievement; construct and interpret valid assessments using a variety of formats; analyze assessment data to make decisions about improving instruction and student performance” In fact, perhaps these are three separate objectives?

    • Have you considered any “structure” to the introductions? A particular set of questions you’d like them to address or particular piece of information you’d like them to share? Often finding a humorous or “light” way of framing introductions can be helpful.

    • So that answers don’t ever get “lost” in the discussion thread, it might be worth curating the discussion periodically and pulling up important Q&A’s or discussion to the forefront in class announcements.

    • Where will these contributions take place? On the students’ own blogs?

    • I love this final project idea!!

    • You might want to check out the site Squabbler (http://www.squabbler.com/) for doing the mini-debates.

  • Meg Edwards

    • This is such a cool idea-especially considering it fosters a rich online community, which is an entirely separate beast from a physical one (and something that I think many students are unused to, but should be getting used to). I especially like the ideas of VoiceThread and an introductory video to give the students names and voices. What I am concerned about, however, are students like myself–ones who, even with the anonymity of the internet, will be more reluctant to comment. What I mean is that they will monologue, and participate, but not necessarily comment on others’ work or respond to it–thus eliminating the chance for dialogue (and therefore community, I guess). I know this has been a debate in online classes before, but I really like the idea of enforcing commenting, especially in a class that is entirely online. When I participated in the Whitman seminar, there were several times when we were required to look at and comment on the posts of our sister schools. This not only ensured that I would read other content, but also think (very) critically about it, since I was very intent on making sure I sounded intelligent.

      I also love that the MJP is itself a community that the students are being introduced to and  potentially modeling themselves on. Out of curiosity, is there a way to extend their participation in that community further (in that they could submit something, get extra points for adding to the wiki)?

    • No suggestions here-this is great. Opening students to new technology that they may not be familiar with is another way this course encapsulates this idea.

    • International discussion and that of t

    • The internationalism discussion and the talk on the Great War will also foster an interesting dialogue on Exposure.

  • Melina Patterson

    • I love this. It seems to have worked well in your classes so far and I think it will be interesting to see how it changes as you move the class online.

    • Here are 100 or so comments on your blog by my 101 students. http://theotherworld.umwblogs.org/category/reading-response/dr-rallis-blog/

    • I agree with Joshua Kim that students might need more structure or guidance for their comments. My students found it very stressful to have to write open ended responses. The best students did it easily and well, but many found it stressful. Providing more specific or detailed guidelines that allow for creativity is harder work, but when you have ideas about how to do it, I think it will pay off.

    • I wonder if students will need some help figuring out how to do have discussions. Is that one of the things that you will work on in the first few weeks? How?

    • Will this be a triple section (so 100+ students) or individual sections? Will students be presenting and leading discussions in that context or in smaller groups?

  • Mike Caulfield

    • I particularly like the integrative nature of the fifth objective here. Although I don’t see it explicitly mentioned in your values, liberal arts is at its core an integrative approach to knowledge which balances the need for discipline specific knowledge with a need to integrate that knowledge into a framework larger than the discipline, and such “real-world” activities support that effort.

    • I really like the balance of quizzes and more meaningful groupwork, and the way that practice quizzes essentially open up the opportunity to take the bigger quizzes. I’m curious how this will be managed online, just because I’m wary of the burden on the instructor if too many students are in different “states”. But a good example of a structure that modifies a traditional grade structure with competency based components, and one that might be very interesting in the context of online education.

      I also like the text — I’ve actually flipped through this text before, it’s highly readable, not intimidating to students, and it is cheap and available anywhere, which increases the accessibility of the course to external populations.

    • Reading through the guidelines, on this objective, I feel like you might push the community aspect of this just a bit further. Collaboration is a key skill, but is only one aspect of community building. In a F2F context there is a social dimension that provides the context for a productive collaboration. In a purely collaborative setting like Google Docs it can be difficult to replicate that.

      That’s not to say that the Google Docs work can’t be central to the course, it’s just that if the goal is to have it “not feel like a correspondence course” some supplementation with F2F video, blogging, chat rooms, or more individualistic/expressive forms might be necessary. It could be very simple, like encouraging students to meet in Google Hangouts to discuss their work — but simple touches like that will go a long way towards conquering a feeling of isolation. Work can also be structured in Google Docs in ways that increase a sense of ownership and diminish resentment (http://www.openu.ac.il/research_center/download/Sharing_collaborating_Google_Docs.pdf)

      The course might also address the goals of engaging students with a larger community a bit more directly. Certainly with a difficult skills-based course like this it is not advisable for students to do all their work in the open — the idea of a safe space for failure is important and meshes extremely well with the Google Docs approach. But it still might be possible to have students engage with the larger community through a small act of web publication or participation. Again, I understand that is much harder in a course like this than in a reading response type course, where there are no “wrong” answers, and mention it only as something to consider.

    • On the whole, though, I have to say that this very much meets the goals as stated.

    • Again, I think that much of this is powerful, but I might broaden the opportunties for less formal more conversational interactions between students. Some of the suggestions in guidelines doc jump out as natural fits for this course, e.g. Skype’s group chat function for a study group, or a rotating set of group leaders to lead online discussions.

      Again, much of this might be things which you are already doing, but I’d be curious to see it in the document. As I read the guidelines document, at the core of a liberal arts conception of interactivity is the idea that students are individuals who are visioble to their instructor and peers as individuals — relying on Google Docs and professor/student chats may not be enough for students to really feel known to their peers. It may seem too narrow a frame.

      Again, I think the unstated controlling idea of interactivity in the guidelines document is that it is integrative and holisitc, and I worry an approach which is not supplemented by things outside of Google Docs may provide students too small a frame to express themselves.

      That said, I love the rich feedback that is scoped out here for students, and the tying of assessment to relevant support materials. Immediacy of feedback is key to students, and when it is tied to suggested steps of action it’s impact is multiplied.

    • This is a place where this proposal shines. It meets the “real issues” concern of the guidelines, and more than adequately addresses the commitment to developing higher order skills. I’d state too that the course looks like it will be a model of scaffolded skills development, with the quizzes building the basic skills to allow for meaningful participation in the authentic activities. I have no reservations about the adherence of the proposal to the active learning guidelines whatsoever.

    • I think this is admirable structure for feedback and self-directed learning (and the more I read this proposal, the more I was to see the exercises for use in my own classes). But it didn’t quite match the focus of the guidelines for me. In the guidelines, the purpose of reflection seems to be integrative — and two aspects of that integration are probably foundational knowledge and skills application (which this structure supports well). Part of integrative reflection, however, is bigger picture questions (what does this tell me about me? about society? etc.) and while the nature of the “real-world” assignments mentioned leads me to believe there’s a lot of this sort of reflection in the class, I’d like to see a nod to it here.

    • This is another place where this design shines. In a skills-based class the importance of feedback, efficacy, and resources to assist student self-study is paramount, and this design appears to offer such support by the bushel.

      It does differ somewhat from the guidelines in that the guidelines foreground self-expression more than individuated instruction, but I’ve dealt with those issues elsewhere in my review, and I feel this represents an adequate reading of self-direction in this type of course.

    • Overall, a good proposal, with strength in Active Learning and Self-Direction. Areas suggested for improvement would include Community and Reflection.

      Throughout the proposal, the authentic Google Docs-based activities carry the weeight of the course design, and the choice of this form of activity seems both well-supported by the target course outcomes and the UMW online course guidelines. I agree with co-reviewer Kolar that they perhaps carry a bit too much weight, and might suggest supplementing with additional technolgies that help address the integrative nature of the online guidelines and allow the students to express themsleves more fully and individually than Google Docs alone might allow.

      As I mentioned below, my guess is the instructor already has plans to supplement with such things as student to student chats, forums, Google Hangouts, or similar. I’d suggest the submitter simply add that information into the Reflection and Community sections and resubmit — this is otherwise a strong proposal and I look forward to seeing this course online.

  • Mills

    • When I took EDUC 351 looking at age-appropriate lesson plans and instruction was definitely the basis of the course. These lessons were planned with the end in mind – the assessment – and assessment was constantly enforced. – How you would assess how well students learned in each specific lesson, over the week, and even over the unit. There was a focus not only on how you would assess knowledge on tests/projects but also in every day activities. Dr. Davis relates all of these pieces extremely well.

    • These are clear and thought out learning objectives that are definitely attainable within the course. It is important to know the details of each theory to be able to successfully apply it in a classroom setting. These objectives stress differentiation, which is a key aspect of good lesson planning and assessment design.

      As a student who previously took this course, I never really understood fully how important differentiation was within a classroom. How effective differentiation facilitates learning and usually in a way that is not even recognized as learning.

      Dr. Davis applies utilizes specific theories to teach about that theory, and it is a flawless design which she does amazingly. In class we would learn about “Graffiti” or another model she would actively involve us as students in this model with the components of it being the basis of the model, the drawbacks, the positives, the use within a classroom, etc. It was fun and involved.

      The learning objectives are well applied within the class, and I have no doubt that the online aspects will only help facilitate the completion of these objectives.

    • I completely agree with Victoria. Dr. Davis emphasizes metacognition. She asks students to reflect on their own ideas and practices and how effective these are but also how they can be changed. It is a course that allows you to grow not only as a student but as a future educator.

    • I think there is a lot of information on the syllabus, but I think it is all necessary.  Long, yes, but at least all the information is in one spot and you do not have to search for different papers. It sets clear guideline and expectations from the beginning of the semester with all information students could need on the course. No questions are left open and no expectations of the professors are left unanswered. It is thorough and well planned. Each aspect of grading is clearly presented and explained with the actions that are necessary for receiving full credit.

      All assignments are listed so nothing “pops-up” leaving students in a scramble at the end. Things are clear and well outlined allowing students to plan their time both in and out of class.

      The acceptable uses of technology is a great addition. Since it is a hybrid course it is great to have specific places for reference and posting. Some of which we used in 351 before it was a hybrid course. Having used some/most of these sites personally I know they will work  well with the course, the assignments, and the objectives. Once again clear differentiation is shown in the different sites and webpages available to utilize and also the various project types available for students to complete.

      It is a great example even for education students of how to be clear and knowledgeable when presenting information and expectations to students.

    • The student engagement in group and individual activities within this course is well thought out and implemented. Working together is a large part of the success of this course, both inside and out of class. Dr. Davis’ knowledge of the online forums and websites will be a huge help to students, because believe it or not, we (I especially) are not all-knowing about the internet. The groups, forums, and facetimes/hangouts will be especially helpful with the navigation and use of certain sites and students will be able to help each other with webpages and also critical thinking on the topics within the course.

    • This is where group teaching comes into play, and Dr. Davis does a great job with this. She allows students to teach themselves and their peers while working in groups. Students figure things out together and analyze aspects of specific theories. Students understand parts of a theory or even whole theories better than they understand others. As such, Dr. Davis has often mixed groups based on students’ comfort with certain skills or details of a theory. 1- Don’t get it at all, 2- Understand the general pieces but need help with detail, 3 – comfortable but not mastered, 4 – comfortable with material and could teach it. Students that are 1’s are paired in groups with 4’s. This way all students of the group are actively engaged – either learning more or teaching, no one is left out doing nothing. 2’s and 3’s are paired so everyone can share parts they understand more. Either way, all groups are expanding upon their knowledge and skill set.

      This is not the only way to work on metacognition and community but just an example. It is obvious this goal of community will be attained in the class.

    • Reflection is a major aspect of this course. Students must reflect on their assessment for a specific lesson, the components of the lesson itself, what went well, and also what they could improve.  It is a large part of teaching and it is a necessary skill we must learn to do well. Dr. Davis implements reflection well into the course in specific assignments and discussions of the course. Students are asked to reflect on their own teaching and learning, teaching models, theories, practicum, and even their practicum mentor teacher (habits, routines, lack of routines, reactions to students, etc.)


    • I agree fully with Jason’s comment and couldn’t have stated that better. Dr. Davis has done a wonderful job incorporating everything into this course.

    • Dr. Davis has done an amazing job with the planning of this course. She has taking her experience from in class 351 and expanded the technology use to an incredible degree. These are similar technologies that were used as learning tools in 351 and now they will just be a more integral part of the hybrid course. It is the perfect combination of in-class learning and reflection with the freedom of scheduling for at-home activities. She has created a detailed and well thought out syllabus that touches on every piece of the class, and she has explained each expectation and section wonderfully.

      This class will be extremely successful. She is a phenomenal professor and can execute this plan with flying colors.  She has thought of every minute detail and thought of endless possibilities to help her students succeed. She is a wonderful professor to learn from, one in which prepares you endlessly for the future. Dr. Davis has done a great job with this course plan, it will be a very successful class.

  • msnyder

    • Comment on General Comments on February 27th, 2013

      I think this will be a great online course! Everything is well thought out and planned. Makes me feel ashamed at my organizational ability. Mara supported the liberal arts values, (Community, Active Learning, Exposure to New Ideas) she included and has very clear and achievable goals.


  • Patrice Grimes

    • environmentS; choose a more precise verb for course description (e.g. students will examine  / analyze / synthesize) to parallel teacher expectations with student outcomes refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy for more precise word choice for objectives (vs. goals). Examples: Identify attributes to establish a community of learners Describe their values  . . . Create a toolbox of strategies . . . Develop communication strategies between teacher and parents / caregivers Articulate the roles of teacher, home, etc (unless you want to make these goals) Would “self-directed learning” also be a value, given the nature of this course?

    • Be more precise in word choice for objectives:

      Identify criteria for learning communities

      Describe values that influence classroom management

      Compare and contrast toolbox of strategies . . .

      The last two items are goals: do you want them to be goals or objectives?

    • consider self-directed learning value as well

  • Paul

    • Looking at this from the UK, this probably isn’t what we would recognise as a course description, which normally says something about what the course covers (i.e. an extension of the first sentence) rather than how it sits within programmes or fulfils requirements of others. I guess part of this may be the intended audience, but as this may be the first thing a student sees, I’d want it to draw them in more than this does. What’s the course about? Why does it matter? Why should they do it?

    • I’m of like mind with the previous reviewers on this one and think these need to be rethought/reworked. The content/analysis distinction is helpful, but I think the objectives, as with any others, need to be SMART(er), and think the suggestions others have made here are really useful.

    • One issue I’m having with this proposal as it’s currently written is that I’m not sure who the intended audience is. It reads more like it’s targeted at faculty/reviewers, but that suggests that much of this will need to be redrafted for use with students. The latter won’t need to know that the content is the same as f2f, even if we do so that we can udnerstand how the two are connected and how Steve has thought through and justified his approach (which generally looks excellent BTW).

      I’m not sure if it wouldn’t have been more useful for us as reviewers to see the product with commentary rather than the two integrated.

    • One thought: if the online and f2f are running at the same time, would it be possible to exploit this and to design in connections between the two groups? That speaks to the Community value and would help online students to feel part of the same community as those learning on campus.

    • Looked through the Course Syllabus site and think this looks great. I’m going to reiterate a couple of comments others have made – the main one being that students new to online learning may find the three spaces a bit confusing, so it’s going to be essential to make it clear what they should get from the different environments. This is especially true for the MOOC and class discussion spaces, since at the moment the MOOC looks like a big open discussion forum to me (but this may reveal my ignorance). For less experienced e-learners, it may be helpful to have one or two 60 second ‘how to’ screencasts so they can see how to do things and what happens when you do (including for example, for Twitter). From a cosmetic perspective, embedding these into the main course site rather than linking out would look cleaner, but may not be possible.

      Syllabus looks good, and the opening motivation questions are great, as are the little video clips posted to date – warm, engaging and encouraging. Having one of these to preface each syllabus section is a fine idea, perhaps alongside a news clip of relevance for some of the later topics (I already see a couple of movie clips in places too – fantastic stuff)?

      The visual syllabus is great – I did something like this using Prezi for one of my courses last year, but think the way this is presented is even neater and will be shamelessly stealing the idea (what software did you use BTW?).

    • This also looks great, although quite a lot of work here for you to deal with e-mails. I’m not sure how many students you’ll have for this variant, but it leads me to wonder (a) how scalable this format is (it may be fine for the first time it runs while everyone is finding their way) and accordingly (b) if there’s a way to do this that is. Just thinking out loud, I’m wondering whether some of your seniors might act as moderators? Good for them as well as you and the online students…

      It’d be good to see a bit more detail on the last point in the paragraph too – what are those ideas?

    • I like this. :-)

    • Agree with other comments here, although note my earlier comment about emphasising to students how this differs form the internal discussion. Will some of the same topics be discussed? Are there different rules? Also, how will students be encouraged top enagge when they know there are external ‘experts’ watching? I think they can and will, but it’ll be important to emphasise (as you do in the intro videos) that this is a shared learning process where (as the evidence of current economic fortunes indicates) none of us has all the answers!

    • Just wondering how the material will be organised in relation to content and analysis (if I can use that split)?

    • This might be tougher for a non-US external audience which will be less familiar with the nuances of various presidents’ policies. But a nice idea.

    • Ditto Steve’s comments. Could just have been posted a s alink, but the syllabus online is great and the learning outcomes etc for each component are really good. This looks well-designed with lots of opportunities for students to engage with the five values.

    • I agree daily is going to be demanding, and might even put some off. I think ‘regular’ is probably key (and of course there may be occasions when they are daily if news events demand).

      But using Twitter a great idea to build community and interactivity.

    • Great stuff.

    • It might be an interesting (and helpful) idea to share your feedback on the essays you post, so others can gain insights into what was good and where improvement was needed. Or even encourage the group to provide constructive critique so they understand better what makes for a great essay.

    • This could be a demanding schedule if the numbers get large. Might you want to allow yourself a ‘one working day’ rule for emails? (We have similar debates in the UK, mindful of work-life balance and the need to set appopriate expectations)

    • Yes, I think Becky’s right here – your f2f approach of waiting for a response isn’t going to work in this environment… The key will have to be to guide rather han answer.

    • Again, great stuff and absolutely best practice. My only reservation is whether this is going to be scalable if numbers of students grow.

    • Yes, agree.

    • Perfect!

    • All good stuff, and you ask students to do an essay of their own, but then retreat to more orthodox essays. I’m wondering if you could get students to do something a bit more imaginative for another assignment as an alternative to an essay – a video, poster or photo collage for example?

    • I’m wondering whether there is scope for students to reflect on their own learning in a more metacognitive sense, i.e. not simply in terms of the meaning, but reflecting on their own learning?

    • My comment above about an alternative format to essays, perhaps of the student’s choice, would also seem to speak to this value.

    • Overall I think this course looks great. The five values are well-evidenced and the course has clearly been well thought through, with plenty of thought about how it will migarte and need to differ between online and f2f variants. It’ll be really interesting to see how it turns out…

  • Paul L Latreille

    • I agree – nonprofits are often excluded from such courses.

    • Depending on who the course description is aimed at, I wonder if the use of ‘integrative approach’ is appropriate: it clearly has meaning for academics, but if the audience is (potential) students, it may be better to use something a bit simpler.

    • Yes, an excellent and very clear set of learning objectives. A minor suggestion would be to change the ordering, with the sequence running from general to specific and then to self (including reflection and feedback), i.e. 1-3, 5, 6, 4, 7-8.

      Also “practicing” in what is currently 5 should be “practising” (i.e. with an s).

    • Agreed. It would be helpful to see the breakdown of marks for each assignment component (e.g. quizzes, management report etc.).

    • This provides an excellent range of opportunities for collaborative learning and the structure is clearly designed to reflect the online nature of the course rather than simply bolting elements onto a face-to-face course. That said, I think the last element is crucial – online can and should include synchronous elements too.

      I particularly like the idea of peer review and feedback, but wonder how this will be graded?

    • Yes, Donald’s points are well-made – my own experience is that students are often less familiar and confident with using such tools than the popular conception, especially in an academic rather than purely social setting. The range of tools suggests it would be good to have some screencasts walking students through some of the ‘how to’ (although with the exception of course-specific tools/technologies, such resource might be something developed centrally for use across the various online courses rather by instructors on specific courses).

    • Agreed. How will teams be allocated BTW? The dynamics of teams means this is worth consideration…

    • One addendum here. It struck me that nowehere does the syllabus contain reference to ‘completing’ (although this may be implicit in monitoring progress). This might be something that could be mentioned explicity however.

    • I agree and like the ideas here, including the management jouranl, peer critique and management applications postings.

      However, while I also like the management interview idea, I share Robert’s concern about whether students will find it easy to secure such a lengthy interview. There is also a potential inequity in that some students may find this easier to secure than others depending on their circumstances. A fallback might be for the course instructor to do one or more interviews which are recorded and posted, and can then be studied and dissected by the students from the choice of interviews available. This doesn’t give them the same chances to hone their interviewing and research skills, but could still be a useful learning tool (and avoids the (admittedly small) reputational risk of sending inexperienced interviewers into the field).

    • Actually, just noticed the last is already included!

    • Good range of opportunities. Could also require the equivalent of a ‘response to referees’ on the peer feedback received.

      Note spelling on manager in third bullet point is wrong.

    • Again note spelling of manager in fourth bullet and my point about whether students will all be able to secure the lengthy interview required.

    • Again, need to check spelling of manager!

    • Overall a good and interesting course that appropriately reflects its intended online delivery. The material looks rigorous and there is good coverage and pacing of material.

      The variety of activities is excellent and gives lots of scope for interaction and engagement in line with the 5 values. However, this does mean the course looks quite intensive for both student and instructor (who will need to deliver against the promised feedback and also respond to comments etc so as to stimulate and maintain the dialogue). Some consideration might therefore be given to how the total study time (and assessment) would compare with a more conventional course.

      But in general a well-conceived and structured course with some genuinely nice ideas (e.g. peer feedback).

  • Reverend

    • If blog burnout is a concern, is there a way to build in moment s for reflection that doesn’t require posting on everything? Sometimes the push to label the work as a blog obfuscates the fact that they do this in papers, notes, etc—it’s not all that different just because you call it a blog.

    • Why not have these shared amongst the class? Seems the journal is one of the few opportunities available to create a sense of community? Is there a ay that they can read and comment on each others reflections to foster such community?

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on January 4th, 2012

      I’ll be looking for one from your book :)

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on January 4th, 2012

      Typographical errors are a feature of ds106, not a bug ;)

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on January 4th, 2012

      I was thinking what better way to start ds106 as a mindset than to quote Wikipedia as not some much as an authority, but an ongoing struggle over meaning, knowledge. and the way we interpret everything in a world wherein the construction of knowledge is everywhere on display.

    • It would be interesting to introduce students to the deeper problems of assessment and the power at play by having them openly assess each others work in a few instances. What makes solid assessment? How do you back up your judgement? Etc. Done well, it could be a really valuable part of this experience.

    • Google hangouts might be something you can use for breakout sessions, it handles youtube videos and google presentations brilliantly, and what’s more it has an awesome effect for making the video some both group and one-on-one.

    • What’s nice about VoiceThread too is it allows that discussion to be asynchronous to some degree, that can be huge if the synchronous approach becomes a bear.

    • Or maybe students can author there own blogs and comments and linking back can be a part of them learning what it meets to occupy the web as an ongoing experiment and reinforce the life-long learning goal you set out. I mean think about your use of the blog for your own teaching and learning.

    • I can;t help put think that with 35 students and an online environment you are going to need something more immediate and engaging than multiple choice questions and quizzes. I would think it would be much more intimate and rewarding if they were to reflect on their learning and the process in their own blog space wherein the course community provides feedback and commentary. I just think that the OLI is in many ways about making the relationship more immediate, and I can’t think of anything more distant in terms of grading then Multiple CHoice and quizzes. Will you be asking them to share how they found the answer? Or anything like that?

    • Marjorie,
      I love the idea of Google Earth in this regard, this is something we should explore Donald.

    • Donald,
      One of the things I have found worked with Twitter is creating a space for immediate feedback from folks in the class. I require them to be on the space, and what it does is creates a sense of community for the class that is very hard to reproduce in other technologies when done well. The doing it well is not always easy so we have to experiment around that, and most importantly get buy-in as RObert Barr notes. The short, conversational tone, immediate feedback, etc. prove really is powerful for an online class.

      And I agree with you, Josh and all the commentators have been spot on with their feedback, it is an amazing process.

    • One of the most important things about be open is inviting people in. Making them know it is there, providing them incentives to give students feedback, or even design parts of the class that bring the open world into the discussion and framework of the course. I think as you become more and more comfortable with teaching this class online this is something we can build out pretty easily.

    • I couldn’t agree more with Josh on his take, leaving the comments open enables a sense of ownership and trust, and comments can always be deleted after-the-fact :)

    • I think the idea of active learning turns the process back to how you see the students approaching this material actively and independently, all of which is distinct from how you will create an interactive environment. The question have similarities, but there are enough nuances to tease them out as part of how you will be preparing for this class and your expectations for them demonstrating their learning porocess..

    • I love the idea of group work and reflections, sounds brilliants. As for individual feedback, I wouldn’t think you would have to be the only person commenting on everything. In fact, you might make their commentary on each others work required for participation. You don;t have to read everything, that is part of the objective of them taking responsibility for their own learning and forging a community of constructive feedback.

    • Might it be useful to ask them to demonstrate the research they have done to arrive at the answer. A narrative of their learning that you don;t have to necessarily read entirely, but they have as a record of their thinking. It is work, but I imagine it might be useful.

  • Rob Barr

    • I agree with the others that the 3 hour sessions will be too long. I like Helen’s suggestion of breaking it up by posting videos (presumably that you take while in location). Alternatively, would it be possible to schedule two meetings each week rather than one? If so, perhaps you could have guests during one session, and then find an interesting/significant location for the next session. It seems that the main benefit of this proposal is the notion of ‘vicarious fieldwork,’ and particularly of a live and interactive sort. This in turn depends on literally showing the students the locations being studied. If the synchronous sessions are held only in hotel rooms, much of that benefit is lost. Similarly, if the synchronous sessions involve only guest speakers, why is the instructor’s personal travel necessary? This sort of thing can be arranged long distance. So I think it’s necessary to build in regular sessions where you are showing them a location and interacting with it in some way; breaking up the 3 hour meetings might afford that opportunity.

    • I think the devil is in the details here. Poorly structured questions, like finding the definition of some concept, will have little to no pedagogical value. Questions that ask students to apply knowledge from the text, to find examples of concepts, etc., will be more useful.

    • I agree with the comments on providing guidance for the blog entries. As for the Twitter posts, are these simply for the enjoyment of the students should they decide to follow along, or is there some kind of assignment associated with them? If the former, I’m sure plenty students will find them interesting, but many won’t bother to read them at all. And for group work, how do you ensure that they actually work in groups to prepare for discussions? If there’s no assignment or evaluation tied to this element, the benefits may be lost.

    • I’m wondering what kinds of assignments permit instant feedback with suggestions for improvement. It strikes me that these must be only objective in nature (to get instant, automated feedback), rather than reflective, analytical, etc. Also, if feedback is essential and yet the size of the class prohibits individual feedback, then perhaps peer feedback is required.

  • Robert S Rycroft

  • Ryan Fowler

    • Why not have the agency (“to ask you “) specified throughout the course description? Or, not at all, I suppose; but I like the idea of the course description being personalized/activated.

      I am interested in the “as they are extrapolated”; you could specify when (as they have been extrapolated [by others], which would be historical) or as a possibility for the students (as they can be or might be extrapolated [by you as students learning how to actively interpret]), or both, perhaps.

    • I am wondering about the different between “knowing” and “having familiarity with.”

      I like the emphasis on context.

      To “drawing conclusions” could you add the applicability of such information to conceptual frameworks; a sense of the importance of ideals to one’s life; a sense of the higher good?

      “In so far as talking about those stories” could be more specific: how do we talk about them? how can they help us draw conclusions (and then apply those conclusions)? does the way we talk about them affect how we apply them to our own lives?

    • I might specifically add developing skills: interpretation and application of information across various genre (material, texts, paintings, etc.) Identifying cultural assumptions (and premises of argument) can also be added.

    • Why only occasional synchronous class meetings? How many recorded lectures? I am curious how this will effect interactivity in real time with students.

    • Sorry: I am wondering about the *difference* between “knowing” and “having familiarity with.”

      And, add to “In so far as talking about those stories can do that.” that to specify how they can do that would be helpful for the student.

    • I agree, and I think you can even expand the list! (See above.)

    • I am gathering from this that there are mechanisms in place for responses to responses, and the chance for multiple posts (from various students, as well as the original author).

    • I so agree. Accumulating good will, respect, civility, and substance in their posts, as you mention above, all seem to be key (but mandating as certain amount of feedback helps).

    • Critically analyze common interpretations, critique them and evaluate them on their own merits (and find their own interpretative vocabulary and interpretations), analyze primary sources—critical thinking, ideals, application of information, developing their own new questions, developing hard skills, creating and presenting a clear argument.

      A nicely put-together list.

      You could mention, in terms of service, the sense of the higher goals or good, as well as ideas (good and bad) of leadership.

    • Perhaps also: interactivity increased the chance of a student, after trying to figure something out, seeing how someone else did it, thereby possibly increasing his or her vocabulary, skill set, imagination, and creative thinking.

      Also, the chance to have a student learn how to constructively critique (or take constructive critique) is a hard skill.

      And the possibility that they can gather what is missing from an answer through interactivity is helpful both for you and especially the student.

    • Also: how perfection/the ideal is a very helpful (but impossible) “forest” that can help us all organize our “trees” in a meaningful and real way.

      Also: how the gods became God in the Christian vein (or compares with the Jewish God), which ideals they are surrounded by in direct or indirect ways.

      A nice paragraph.

      (As an aside, I might take issue with the idea that Plato’s Republic got rid of lies “in all its forms.”)

    • But as well, having a critical lens that each of them is aware of can help them step back from their own assumptions as well as those of others. Finding their own assumptions and missing premises can help them find the same things in others. This can lead to empathy and solidarity and community, as well as service and larger meaning.

    • By this I mean: they all read, and look, and listen with some sort of approach and method. You are helping them see their own lens, develop it further, and remain aware of it through the rest of their lives.

  • Sandra Sanchez

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 11th, 2013

      In the first online learning environment description point you explain how you want to create a website separate from Canvas for the online course but here you mention you also want to link to canvas. Wouldn’t it be easier to attempt to use just one website so it’s easier for students? For a few of the history classes I’ve taken they’ve used UMW Blogs and on there they put announcements and such.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 11th, 2013

      In the syllabus there’s a learning objectives section, in there you have 2 listed and here you have 4. I think especially when it comes to political phenomena that needs to be put in the learning objectives on the syllabus and explained a bit more.

    • Comment on PSCI 201: American Government on November 12th, 2013

      I know you’ll upload a file that shows exactly what you want from the assignment but I don’t think it would hurt if you added a brief description of both the president assignment and the wiki assignment in the syllabus

  • Sarah Dengler

    • This is a great component to the course. It allows students to break away from their personal perspectives and consider a differing view. It helps to achieve a global mindset. Class discussions do not only pertain to Geography 101; they are dealings in real world issues and events.

    • I agree. I feel class discussion and debate in this online format will be stronger and more frequent. In order to formulate a written argument (which is then submitted onto the course blog?), students will need to thoroughly digest and comprehend the issues. More so, I would argue, than in a typical classroom setting.

    • The class will web conference with you only once per week? How long will the weekly conferences be?

    • Will the students remain in the same collaborative groups throughout the entire semester, or will new groups form according to the different discussions?
      How will the groups give their presentations to the class? Will they be written, audio, or video presentations?

      Your use of Twitter in the course will be interesting. As a student, I know I would be excited to read the real-time updates of your travels.

    • The experience which you mention is one that would never be obtained from reading textbook or listening to a lecture. Experiences, like this, make the online initiative fresh and exciting.

  • Stephanie Lopez

    • From my experience in taking online courses, if the directions for these synchronous events are not detailed and laid out plainly, many students will come unprepared to participate. I agree with Dr. Broome that the students are probably new to this type of course and need very literal instructions.

      Also, will you only have three synchronous sessions (once every two weeks)? Perhaps having one each week would help keep students on track?

    • Ah, that’s a lot of technology to use. Will you give students links to help them learn how to use these software or will you include such instruction in the first asynchronous or synchronous session? I remember having a tough time working on an online music class because I wasn’t able to figure out how to use the software.

    • Ditto, and be sure that state your guidelines for their feedback.

    • Does this course focus solely on Greek mythology and society or are there comparisons made to the Roman myth system as well?

  • Steve

    • This is picky but if I am a student, this description does not tell me anything about the course. Why not list the typical questions that are covered such as “understand national accounts, inflation, unemployment, the business cycle and long-run economic growth…” something like that would help students know a little more about the course.

    • I agree with Wendy on this. These are both way too vague. If our audience is the student, then again, this does not communicate the goals to them well. They don’t know what “analyze” means in the context of economics. I imagine your objectives are far more specific on this point. You want them to be able to understand readings about current events, for example. That means being able to (1) decompose the argument into its assumptions and predictions and (2) be able to reconstruct the argument using the basic tools of, say AD-AS, to (3) evaluate whether the argument makes economic sense. So I think you really are saying you want them to analyze current events (understand arguments), construct their own argument using the theoretical tools taught in the course, and evaluate economic arguments.

      for #1, I think this appears to be a “content goal” but I am not sure. I think that is fine, but you could say that more directly. Do you mean learn “economic definitions” or “basic economic theories”?? probably both, but I guess more emphasis is on the latter.

    • I am confused about what this means:

      “Students will initially do this task individually (and I’ll ask them to email me their responses). Next, I’ll ask each student to post one piece of their analysis in the Discussion space, one concept, theory or institutional fact/finding along with their reasoning for choosing it.”

      I looked at the link in the paragraph and went to topic 2, supply and demand. So I am trying to think about what these initial “analyses” from the students would look like? Is this them talking about what they think is the most important concept from this chapter readings? Or are you prompting them to read an article where they have to apply supply and demand?

      This just is not clear.

    • ok, so this sounds like this is the more “traditional” greenlaw-deloach kind of ediscussion regarding some controversial topic. no?

      If I read this right, then this aspect definitely gets to the objectives of analyzing, constructing and evaluating arguments about current events. This technique is good, well-supported in the literature by research :) and provides deep learning to the students.

    • Why does this take me to a word file that has nothing but a link to a blog page? very awkward.

      Having said that, the syllabus looks great! And by the way, your learning objectives for each chapter/module are far-better written than your overall course ones. They are specific and tied to the text. And the list of current events/readings looks awesome. I am going to steal some of these for my macro course this fall.

      Are these the readings that students post about in the first discussion space (the Reddit one) that confused me above?

    • I think with all these discussions, there is no question that community building will happen. You have that, along with most of the other values well-covered with all of this interactivity,

    • As I said above, you have this nailed!

    • Again, just being redundant, but this course is highly active and demands individual responsibility. Well done.

    • Yeah I think you are right there. So to me, the question is can you get them to do that metacognitive step at some point. I tend to think this happens pretty naturally in the course of all these analytical discussions. But maybe not?

      So I think your proposed pre-post essay idea is as good as any. Another interesting thing you might try — I am thinking for potential paper/assessment — would be to ask a series of agree/disagree statements at the beginning of the course. Think likert scale stuff. Then at the end, ask the same ones. This would allow you to quantify the extent to which their views have changed. Theoretically, the strength to which they agree or disagree with simple dualistic statements should decrease after the course. e.g., “tax cuts are beneficial to economic growth.” If you get a lot of 4s and 5s on that early, you hopefully would get a lot of 3s and 4s afterwards, right?

    • So I am not too worried about this because those discussions require initiative and independence of thinking.

  • Steve G.

    • Are you assuming the student will come to the College Bookstore to purchase the book? This may not always be feasible. Does the Bookstore offer online or mail-order sales? Should you provide a link to the book at amazon.com?

    • Program Goals aren’t self-evident to me. E.g. What does “Business Acumen” mean?
      “Beginning of the Course Online Video Welcome from the Teacher” is nice!
      “Ask the Instructor” online forum is nice!
      Synchronous Chat is not 100% Asynchronous!
      Under “Tech Requirements” you say:
      “A UMW computer account to access the course on Canvas. Assignments will be submitted through Canvas.” This might imply that students have to do something to get a UMW computer account, just as they have to get internet access. I would revise this to read as complete sentences, like “All students will be provided with a UMW computer account (which has the same username and password as your UMW email. You should submit all assignments through Canvas.”
      Under “Tech Help” you might include the hours the help desk is open (since they’re not open 24-7).
      I like the “Introduce yourself to your classmates by creating/updating your Canvas Profile.
      What are the student groups? You start mentioning them before you explain them.
      The self-tests are ungraded, right? Are they required, optional, what? I think ungraded is fine, but I’d suggest making them required, and if you like, giving credit to doing them, though not grades. That approach has worked well in my classes.
      Manager Interview Report – Where are the students supposed to find a manager? Consent of the Manager for the interview or for writing/submitting the report? Will the report be seen by anyone other than the course instructor? “A random set of managers may be contacted ..” It’s not clear if this means you, or the student should contact a random set. I recommend rewriting the sentence.

      “Weekly Discussion Forums” – I would clarify what a Discussion Forum is.

      “Management Journal” – What should the format of this be? Are you expecting regular entries? Will you collect the journal only at the end of the course or several times during the semester? I’ve had really good experiences with using blogs for this purpose.

      “all questions concerning grades must be resolved within one week after an assignment is graded and returned to the student.” I think this is addressed to the student but from the way it is written, it could mean that the teacher will act within one week also. So if the students submits a grade appeal on the 7th day, you’ll have almost no time to respond if you plan to stay within the guidelines as written.

      Under Disability Services: “make an appointment with me” – this seems to assume students are on-campus. How might you do this with a distant student? (e.g. meet using the synchronous chat feature of Canvas?)

      Is this a Writing-Intensive course? Just curious.

      ** I never found an explanation of the online groups in the syllabus. I think you need this!

      I like the idea of research groups!

    • I would suggest adding an early opportunity for all class participants including the instructor to “get together” either synchronously or asynch. For example, students could be asked to learn something about another student and post it online. You could let students know that you’ll be following that—you could also contribute something to the discussion.

      How exactly will the student learning teams be formed online?
      How will the research presentations be conducted?

      Based on the syllabus I don’t see “extensive interaction with the faculty member” Can you clarify?

    • How will “Student learning teams … review, analyze, and discuss cases, videos, discussion questions, etc.” What media do you plan to use? Synchronous or asynch?

    • I suggest sharing the Manager Interview Reports at least within the groups.

    • I agree. I think the “Course Format” in the syllabus is a much clearer description of the course.

    • I really like this module approach, both the substance and the description of it.

    • Do you expect that class participants will compose their brief introduction using text or some other medium? What software will you use for the group video conference calls?

    • Do you plan to publish/publicize the wiki site when it is complete? That could add to the realism of the product.

    • What is a “county compare”?

    • Could you provide an example of a submission and a discussion point? That might help students get started.

    • This assignment might benefit from what is expected in both the peer and self evaluation.

  • Susan Drummond

    • Learning objective number 4 (“Conduct semantic analysis of a word across time”) is an absolutely fantastic way to fulfill the aims of Active Learning and Self-Directed learning. I think it is particularly effective because it suits both students who have a specific goal in mind (e.g., an English major interested in a word’s semantic evolution between a particular literary period and the present day), and students who are just generally curious about the words they use every day. I imagine that such an exercise, insofar as it prompts each student to think critically about meaning, might also improve students’ proficiency in writing.

    • I agree with the above comment – it might be fun and useful for students to design their own animations for the rest of the class to watch and critique.

    • Tumblr might be a good platform to use. Here’s an example:


      Tumblr would allow students to apply course concepts to reaction gifs and images from the meme-sphere. A successful Tumblr post typically uses pop culture references with more-or-less universal appeal (well, to the current generation of 18 through 20-somethings) to shed insight on some particular topic. It’s trendy because other users can re-post content that they like (and unlike Facebook, it’s completely public), so it’s essentially a competition to find the right combination of quirkiness, insight, and humor to achieve some degree of online fame. The quest for validation is somewhat addictive to college students, so it would probably motivate them to do more independent research than is even required.

    • I like this idea! I would also encourage students to see if there are any existing podcast series on etymology. Sometimes a series will allow guest-podcasts, so they could submit a polished work to be considered for presentation on a program with an existing following. Likewise for YouTube channels, if you have students who prefer video to sound-recordings.

    • This is an ingenious way to capitalize on the current culture of “geek chic,” which is rather exhibitionist. If you have any students with graphic design background, they could do their own art instead of using copyright-free stock photos.

    • It might be worthwhile to have each student turn in some kind of prospectus for the project around week 5; that way, they would have to give it some forethought.

    • I like the idea of asking students to refine their research topics from a broader multimedia project (though I hope you will dissuade your students from attempting to catalog the earliest appearances of ‘ontos’!). I don’t recall UMW Libraries having TLG Online among their databases, so finding early citations might be harder for Greek words (whereas the OLD will do just fine for Latin).

    • Perhaps auditory learners could have the alternative of writing a song full of etymology-related mnemonics? Hokey, yet effective for retention.

    • I’m curious: will the course include some basic introduction to modern linguistic methods of determining etymology? Students might be interested to note that the ancients were just as concerned with etymologies as we are, but that their motivations and methods were quite different than ours. In addition,  it might be thought-provoking for them to sort through different derivations proposed for words whose etymologies are uncertain or extraordinary (e.g., ‘nice’ < ‘nescio’).

  • Susan Fernsebner

    • I strongly second Susi Woofter’s comments on the significance of this project. As one who studies and teaches history, I’d also note that the value of this work for comparative study is rich, particularly in the themes identified here (impact of technology, the role of religious and ethnic divisions, and the role of the state in perpetrating such violence.)

    • One additional note re: relevance – this work speaks not only to the study of history, but also directly to issues of current-day global politics and policy.

    • This seminar description is rich, particularl in its focus on the range of available resources as well as in its critical (read: constructive) take on the diversity of approaches to the Holocaust.  Attention to contemporary meanings seems essential too (along with a careful look at the complexities of memory, perhaps?)

      Two items in an already strong objectives statement that might be improved:

      1. The phrase “traditional historical approach” could use more specificity. Is this a reference to getting beyond a past focus by the field on archival documents? Or memoir and early accounts? Towards juxtaposing and comparing diverse sources?

      2. “apply newly acquired analytical skills to a specific aspect of the Holocaust” — through what method? (Research paper, literature review, website creation, other? It’d help to have a sense of the major assignment and/or method by which these skills would be applied.)


    • After reading this paragraph, I’m still curious regarding how much individualized feedback the students may be providing for each other (vs. individual feedback from the professor.) I see a group work assignment in week 3, plus discussion activities for the larger group.

      Will there also be one-on-one student feedback or peer review too? This might be helpful in  modeling both analytical thinking (via collaborative brainstorming) as well as the step-by-step process of developing a successful research project (e.g. sharing outlines, ideas about key sources, early analysis, etc.)



    • The questions raised here re: diverse genres of expression, complexities of memory, and witnessing vs. testifying are intriguing.

    • In regard to approaches for encouraging critical thinking, key aspects are highlighted here: encouraging student agency via questioning ideas / approaches, and exploring challenging (even disturbing) sources related to the topic.

      This already strong statement might be improved further with the addition of more specificity regarding pedagogical method – specifically in regard to how or by what means students will be encouraged to define their own approaches. One might consider how those approaches will be tested for their own rigor? I’m also thinking here of the value of defining one’s own method and argument (versus, say, simply expressing opinion or reaction.) In short, how will those approaches be tested and grounded? One idea might be lessons plans in which the students are directly comparing two different approaches and commenting critically.

      Sidenote: this raises another issues, though one beyond the scope of this current text, namely the complex and important relation of emotion and history. How do we encourage students to build a grounded analysis of the later without having to ignore or dismiss the former? It’s a challenging but important question for curriculum development and pedagogical approach.  In conclusion here, I’d also say this proposed course on the Holocaust offers an excellent contribution to that imporant project.

    • Just added a long comment for this paragraph and realized I was placing it up on paragraph 10 — sorry! See my comment up there “on critical thinking” for feedback on this paragraph #12.

  • Susi Woofter

    • Comment on General Comments on February 5th, 2013

      In general, I believe that this course has a solid foundation and will be informative and engaging for all participants.  I left some individual comments and questions on specific paragraphs, but my overall feeling is that this course has a great deal of promise.  I will be happy to read the comments of other reviewers as they arrive.

      ~Susi W.

    • Provided that everyone takes their participation seriously, I believe that a written forum for discussion like this will actually be of great benefit for a topic as deep and complex as the Holocaust.  I can remember many times in class that I really wanted to contribute what I felt was an important thought, but I felt like I needed time to develop it, and by the time I knew what I wanted to say and, importantly, how I wanted to say it, the discussion had moved on.  For everyone who takes advantage of the extra time to think, I believe that this will be very advantageous.

    • Just out of curiosity, will there be any provision for “conference call” type interaction between participants, such as Skype, or will all discussion be exclusively through written comments?

    • I may append this comment later on as I think through things more, but I think that a lot of important things are touched upon here.

      What jumps out to me first is the implied difference between “fact” and “truth”, and how the particular facts with which we are presented influence how we perceive the truth of an event.  Since none of us can experience the Holocaust firsthand for ourselves (any farther than potentially visiting a historical site in person, perhaps), that is a very important distinction to recognize.

      I think the focus on “strengths and limits” of various media is important as well, since the Holocaust is often stylized for storytelling purposes.

      I am curious to know a bit more of what is meant by “going beyond the traditional historical approach”, however.

    • I’m quite sure that such sharing and discussions will tend to wander very widely over a lot of moral and philosophical topics.  Will there be enough time to let those conversations develop (to a reasonable extent) without having to cut them short, and still cover all the material on the syllabus?

    • “The difference between witnessing and testifying” sounds like a very interesting topic of discussion, indeed.  It’s not something I would normally think about, myself, but I can certainly see the relevance for the Holocaust.

    • …Students have to define their own approach to analysis.  That is definitely an invaluable skill to foster.  While the course deals most directly with the Holocaust, it is a topic which has moral implications that stretch across all borders.

      Understanding how we develop our viewpoints and choices is every bit as important as the nature of those views and choices, and certainly not just when it comes to evaluating history.

    • In light of so many divisive viewpoints in the world today and an apparent trend toward extremism on both ends of the political spectrum, I believe that the present day value of asking these kinds of questions cannot be overestimated.  I can emphatically agree with the goals of this course, both in the context of understanding history and of being good citizens of humankind.  We do have an obligation to think for ourselves, to ask hard questions, and to critically evaluate all input which we receive, and any endeavor which contributes to that end has my full support.

  • Suzanne

    • This indicates a good use of a variety of technology. Are we assuming that students understand how to use voicethread, etc?

    • The syllabus is very clear and specific. I like the objective-assessment correlation. The document provides clear instructional on working within Canvas.
      Expectations are clear.

    • Building community is so vital yet sometimes difficult in an online enviornment. I like the introductions and I may have missed this – but, are there any requirements to respond to each other’s introductions?

    • Will students be given specific prompts for reflection? Do students reflect at the end of each week and to the readings or are they one in the same? How will the reflections be graded? Will there be a rubric outlining specific criteria the response must entail?

    • I like the position debate assignment. How will this work online? Will they actually be able to work in a debate format?

    • Jane and Teresa, I look forward to seeing this come together.

    • There are some interesting tools being used here.

    • This course proposal appears to meet the libral arts and sciences values as outline. Community is built through a variety of sharing and posting opportunities. A group project is included to increase collaboration.
      Course objectives are clearly outlined. Discussion boards, blogs, wikis, and google docs all incorporated. Office hours are posted. The format suggests a high degree of interaction.
      There is a variety of instructional strategies, using both group and individual prpojects/assignments. There are multiple chances to reflect learning to self and world.
      I believe that the nature of online learning requires students to be self-directed. Do you feel that there are strong components of formative assessment here?

    • Will students be given a rubric for peer evaluation? Will it be part of their own assessment? In other words, will there be points associated with the value of their critique?

  • T Grana

    • I’m surprised the name is environmental regulations compliance. Since it is not about complying with environmental regulations it could be called Environmental Regulations and Compliance or Environmental Policy. Anyway that had little to do with the course since it is in the catalog this way.

    • I’ve been on the Curriculum Committee for three years so I took a careful look at your syllabus since I have lots of practice at that.

      On the numbered section:
      3. Exams mentioned in syllabus under Quizzes, but there are no exams.

      4. Verbatim text is an honor violation and should be reported to the honor council.
      Citations should be required and would make a good model for a reputable website.

      5. Does every other mean the “odd or even presentations”, or “all other presentations”?

      10. ODS is now the Office of Disability Resources”

    • Are you planning to require a certain amount and quality of feedback on other student’s posts to increase interactions/make sure they are learning and interacting with each other.

    • Are the responses from student to student going to be monitored for civility? The anonymity of an online course may make them less inclined to consider other’s feelings/sometimes what you mean comes across wrong in writing.

    • I like the other’s suggestions about making the active learning truly active.

    • Is there a suggested amount of time students should be putting into the course each week?

    • Is there a built in way that you can give individualized feedback to students that their classmates do not see?

    • Following Alan, will they also reflect on a policy that is implemented but that does some unexpected harm?

    • I like that these course objectives are tied up with refection and that reflection is one of the values of online learning. I wonder whether students will be reflecting on the course material sometimes (making connections/critical thinking) and on their own feelings about environmental regulation. I also wonder whether space should be made for both types of reflection or if you want to note that some reflection is personal and some reflection is more of a cognitive way of processing information.

    • I find self-directed learning difficult for some students due to their personality or past experiences in expecting to be given everything they need to know. Attaining self-direction where students decide what is important to them and reflect on their own learning and interests may be difficult to achieve. As stated in the values document, you are going to have “to be extremely explicit with your students about your expectations with regards to independent learning”. I can see some students really embrace being given such ownership of their learning, but others saying that you didn’t teach them anything. You will have to manage their expectations of what learning in this course really entails: doing projects that interest them means that the learning is up to them (its always been up to them). This is real-world learning not book learning; and mastering it demonstrates much greater skill than passing an exam.

    • Will they analyze data in these studies and come to their own conclusions?

    • Again, some students freak out then there is not a right/wrong answer dichotomy. Continually reinforcing that life if full of grays, while also demonstrating that they way they analyze information may be flawed (wrong) is essential to really modeling how science works. You’ll need to build in this reinforcement throughout the course.

  • Tamie Pratt

    • Clear description with emphasis on major issues facing public school teachers; glad to see the emphasis on assessment.

    • Great use of instructional technologies to model their appropriate uses in K-12 settings to assist with teaching content rather than just presenting information.

    • The abiility to lead and defend a particular standpoint on a topic is crucial to understanding how to teach this communication skill to others. Peer evaluation of this exercise will be important in order for students to identify strengths and weaknesses in their own arguments.

    • Glad to see reflection on learning a part of this course with options as to how students are able to demonstrate their reflective thinking. Students will need guidance on how reflection is different from summarizing so that they are getting to deeper learning and thinking about teaching.

    • Graduate students will appreciate flexibility in completing weekly course assignments; consider due dates to mitigate anyone falling behind.

  • teresacoffman

  • Victoria Fantozzi

    • Dr. Davis is using a variety of web 2.0 tools to encourage interactivity and creativity with her teachers as well as an awareness of tools that are currently being used in the profession. I would suggest also that the blogging tool that Dr. Davis mentions can also be a tool for reflection which is a goal for the course, connecting the practica with course content

    • This shows a really impressive knowledge of online learning tools and methods of instruction (such as back channeling). I wonder how much of the class is synchronous and how much is a-synchronous? How much will be whole class and how much will be small groups with in the course?

    • This seems to be set up well to create a community of practice in which the students are considering themselves as professionals in open communication about the ways they are growing in their teaching practice.


    • I see now that she talks about blogging in the reflection section!


    • Yes it is so important that the students create a rationale for their practice.

    • Dr. Davis certainly has a range of options for her students and ways for them to think about reflecting both on holistic goals – what kind of teacher am I becoming? and also on specific activities – in what ways what this lesson successful in meeting the goals I set out?

      One thought I would have is that it might be a good idea to narrow the avenues for reflection so that it might be possible for them to go back and reflect on their growth as teachers throughout the semester.

    • I think another important point that Dr. Davis has in the syllabus, but not here is that the students will use video technology to aid in their reflection, and to receive feedback which they can reflect on. This is a powerful tool, beginning teachers will benefit from seeing their actions and then reflecting on them.

    • Dr. Davis has multiple avenues for creative thinking and is clearly fostering the idea that there are multiple possibilities for answering a question or presenting information and that the new technologies available to us make this all the more possible.

      Her assignments are connected to the real world, but she allows the students choice, giving them more agency and interest in the projects, this is particularly strong in the problem based learning task and the final project.

    • This is an incredibly thoughtful syllabus in which Dr. Davis has really thought about using an online forum to enhance learning with a focus on creating teachers ready to think and learn in a multi-literate, multi-modal, 21st century way.  It is clear that Dr. Davis is very knowledgable about new technologies and was to incorporate them into her own instruction and to inspire new teachers to use them as well.


    • The answers to my question can be found in the syllabus! There is a nice balance between synchronous connectivity and community in small groups and a-synchronous discussion.


    • As an overall comment, Dr. Davis’s work on this course certainly reflects these three values, but I also think it supports more of the values listed, such as self directed learning, active learning and critical thinking. Her course asks the students to see themselves as part of a community of practice in which they are explorers and creators of new teaching methods and technologies. The students are repeatedly asked to reflect on their progress and to connect this reflection to teaching and learning theory. And finally the students are given the freedom of choice in many activities so that they may think about what kind of learners they are, what they are interested and where their strengths lay in terms of presentation and critical thinking. It is a strong course.

  • Wendy

    • I’m an objectives dork, but it was drilled into me in my teaching certification program years ago. It’s always good to have active, measurable objectives that include higher order learning. You have both here. #1 is a good knowledge level objective. #2 is a good analysis level objective. I’m not really clear on what an educated person should know and why, but here’s a shot at it.

      Articulate basic economic theory and its application within the US economy… (you may add) in order to have an informed perspective on current issues

      Analyze issues and problems the way an economist would.

    • Looks great.

    • Welcome intro great – personal hobbies nice way to make a connection. It’s also helpful when you share that the course is an experiment. I think students really appreciate being part of something new and different.

      Love “what you won’t get in this course”. :-)

      Video 3 – Would it be helpful to add instructions for students to open the charts for the video? Another idea is to create a brainshark video with graphics and your charts. Voice over is really easy with this tool and the students already have a face with the voice from your earlier videos. www.brainshark.com

      After reading the intro, I immediately went to Topic One. Not sure if students will see this navigation or if they will see one topic at a time as you post in Twitter. If they see all topics to the side, you may want to add a word about navigation.

      Topics – I really like the questions for thought. (Good motivation.) Do these double as discussion questions? I understand your discussion plan from the description, but don’t see the integration in the topics. You might consider linking to the discussion forum within the topics so students have access from one place.

      Each topic has thorough learning objectives and readings. Based on the MacroMOOC page, I assume you plan to link to discussions and other activities from the topic pages. Forgive me if I missed something there during my click through.

      I would take out “should be able to” on the objectives and start with the verb… example:
      Explain macroeconomics ..
      Differentiate between …
      Again – just a personal peeve

      You’ve put a lot of thought into this course. I believe it is well designed and generally easy to navigate. I suggest using the topics as a central repository for everything. One of the challenges we had was effectively integrating numerous sites. Having everything accessible from one site in addition to being able to navigate to the discussions separately, may be more clear for students.

      I hope this helps. I’m really excited for you and your students. Please let me know if you have questions. I did this pretty quickly at the end of the day.

  • zach whalen

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      This is Zach Whalen, checking in on this document. If my role, as I understand it, it is to evaluate whether and how the current ds106 meets the objectives of the online learning initiative, then I’ll go ahead and say that, as I read the description of the 5 values, I immediately thought of ds106 as one.of the best examples of this kind of learning. I’ll make more specific comments below (after I find a laptop to borrow — text entry on this Kindle is not as easy as I’d hoped)

  • zachwhalen

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      I’m not sure if typographic corrections are appropriate, but that should be “Wikipedia article”. (singular) :)

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      Is “our own digital platform” supposed to be “your own digital platform”? If so, it’s an important example of the self-directed learning value, as Leslie notes in the comment below.

      I’m interested in these figures of “interrogating assumptions” and “cultural context,” by the way. It does seem to position the intellectual work of the course in a more explicitly critical framework than I realized was the case. That is, the interrogation of cultural contexts is always implicit in the kind of discourse and playful experimentation that comprises the work of the class, but making it a clearly expressed objective is somewhat different, pedagogically. (Not a bad thing at all — just something we could maybe have a conversation about someday.)

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      I almost think it’s good enough to put the digital identity (and procedure) as the explicit objective, and let the interrogation of assumptions come as it may (inevitably) within that process.

      I love the bit about the world beyond. Absolutely essential to online learning and the specific objectives of this class.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      That “for school purposes” is always an issue, though. If one way to look at umwblogs is as a way to break out of the box of e.g. Blackboard, then it must be acknowledged that umwblogs becomes another box of its own. The key to owning identity is to build your own boxes, but since that can only go so far (DNS is still a box, after all, or so is HTTP for that matter), the important thing is to become fluent in boxiness. I agree with you that some clearer language in objective 3 might point more clearly and specifically to that value. … Hmm… or maybe that’s already covered in objective 1. Of course, it’s more than “ideas of narrative” at stake, though.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      Again, I don’t know if this is the purview of my current role, but there are some typos in this paragraph.

      More germanely, I’m impressed with ds106’s success with the hub and spokes model of corporate blogging. I’ve tried similar approaches and found it very difficult to maintain any sense of community. I think filtering and aggregating are also core digital literacy-type skills that are worthwhile for students to gain experience with.

      Re: the success of this hub model for community-formation and interactivity, am I correct in recalling that some theme-hacking allows you to pull comments from student blogs back into the hub as well? I think that’s the missing piece for the way I’ve done things — students have no idea if people are reading theirs or each others content, even if they are. But a comment posted on the public hub says, “This is noteworthy.”

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      This Choose-Your-Own-Assignment is integral to the Active Learning and Self Direction values. Any time you can have students opting in to tasks, you create the potential for deeper, more consequential engagement. And that’s a good thing.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      This paragraph contains several typos. “elarning”, for example.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      I find this phrase “logic of culture” very intriguing, but I don’t find it in this proposal. Is it in some other material?

      I agree with your point, though, that the question of identity begins with authenticity, and one thing ds106 risks, I think, is that it has become such a compelling community, newcomers (i.e. for-credit students) may have a hard time finding their place — no matter how friendly and welcoming the community members actually are. Your suggestion of identifying and reflecting on that “hello world” moment is a good one (and connects to the Reflection value nicely).

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      Here again is the term “interrogating.” Is the best way to join a community by interrogating its values? Or does ds106, as a specifically critical community, engage in platform-interrogation as a core value? (I’m starting to sound political, I know, but after all, no platform is free of ideology, amirite?)

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      I think the key point for the Interactivity value needs to be the instructor’s interaction with students, including things like evaluation and feedback. Certainly, the community supplies a lot of that, but (I agree with Leslie here), some more specific discussion of the instructors role would be helpful. Maybe just describe what goes on in the conferences.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      To take your metaphor here, shouldn’t they also be creating gray matter, not just feeding it? I think of reflection as something that is a dimension of expression, but I think for the Reflection value to be more visible here, it would help to have specifically reflective artifacts. For my classes, these are short (short short) essays, but that’s because I teach in the English department. Would it be possible to use one assignment to reflect on another, and/or be intentional about the task of reflection? Sure, the specific tasks of the assignment bank do encourage reflection, and hopefully students will get there on their own, but baking in some sense of capturing a reflective commentary would be valuable as well. Maybe a screencast narrating how a particular assignment came together? Maybe a requirement to blog reflectively about each assignment?

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      Yeah, this part here about defining a rationale and blogging progressively toward completion is what I think of as reflection.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      … so this is good, in other words.

    • Comment on CPSC 106: Digital Storytelling on December 30th, 2011

      I like your point about canon. To put it another way, showing samples of successful work (I’ve found) can help some students past the initial terror of “come up with your own project” assignments. There’s a tradeoff, of course, because some students, absent any sense of what constitutes “good enough” will err on the side of making something that wildly exceeds your expectations.

    • These are good values, though it seems like “Active Learning” would be an integral part of this course if it includes practicum experience. Perhaps it’s left off of the current proposal since that “activeness” isn’t tied to the online component?

    • Community is such an essential component of coursework, and such a key question in making the case for the viability of online education, I’d like to see some more explication of this. Since this is a hybrid in-person/online class (I assume), what is the relationship between those locations, besides that they have different expectations?

      And also, this may be a simple logistical question, but will this be one community of students participating both online and in-person, or will it be different communities?

      I was unfamiliar with the term and idea of “Culture Quilts”, but I’m curious too whether that’s something managed digitally or something done in person. I’ve just found, in my own experience, online interaction, identity formation, communal engagement all go very differently when that’s done as an add-on to in person behavior. The anonymity of the screen means something different when you have to sit near that person in class the following day, so there are different stakes.

      Anyway, all that’s to say, I don’t see anything really wrong here, but it left me with some questions.


    • I like this justification quite a bit. One possible connection that occurs to me is that the class is both about and is also itself a “learning community” — an opportunity to think about citizenship in a focused, distributed way.

    • Typo in third sentence. Probably meant “first of all”.

      This all seems pretty solid, though. A familiar and sturdy framework within which to place the distributed, self-directed activity necessary for online learning.

    • This seems to be the same justification paragraph from the “Community” section above, but I guess it does speak to both.

    • Oops. I actually meant this as a reply to paragraph 11.

    • I don’t mean to be pedantic (truly), but isn’t there more to fostering reflection than to “require students to reflect”? I mean, I’m sure the author of the proposal is aware of this and does encourage reflection, but reflection can be carried in different ways, through different channels, for different reasons. It’d be nice to see more detail.

    • Forgive me if I’m a bit unclear on the math here, and this probably has more to do with my lack of experience with the OLI initiative, but what’s actually being counted in the class time percentages?

      For example, does that 20 hour practicum count, with it’s 4 hours per week? Does reading through a PowerPoint replace a lecture in a one-to-one fashion? How is watching a video, reading a website, accessing a PDF replacing face to face time, or is it just homework?

    • I’ve read the document and entered some targeted feedback and questions on the points therein. This comment is my general response to the proposal.

      Like the previous reviewer, I find this proposal to be a fairly clear overview of the course that, much like a syllabus, provides a good look ahead for what students should experience in the course of this semester.

      As I understand it, one purpose of the OLI at this time is to create an idea of what liberal arts looks like online, so the most important task of this proposal should be to make the case that the online components of the proposed course do a good job of demonstrating the identified liberal arts objectives set out by the OLI.

      In this regard, I found this proposal somewhat incomplete, as indicated in my comments on specific paragraphs. I’m not familiar with how this course is typically conducted, so it may be that the author is making assumptions that, for example, the logistics of the practicum work in a certain way. But I really think logistics are an obvious and important part of what makes online learning different from in-person learning.

      So in summary, the pedagogy of the course makes sense, but I would have liked more discussion of the relation between f2f and online, as well as a more explicit connection between the 3 liberal arts values and their appropriateness for an online implementation.

  • znina.net


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