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Connections in Online Classes “ Teaching online is an exercise in continual incremental improvements” (Dykman & Davis, 2008, p. 162) Presentation created for a faculty flex workshop at MiraCosta College Friday, April 9 2:30 – 3:30 p.m. Presenter: Laura Paciorek

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Connections in Online Classes“Teaching online is an exercise in continual incremental improvements” (Dykman & Davis, 2008, p. 162)

Presentation created for a faculty flex workshop at MiraCosta College

Friday, April 9

2:30 – 3:30 p.m.

Presenter: Laura Paciorek

Note: Some revisions were made after the presentation (in italics).

Please note: This presentation is being recorded.

overview
Overview:
  • Background information
  • Six types of connections
  • Timelines for fostering connections
  • Specific strategies for each type of connection
  • Sprinkling of research here and there throughout the presentation

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first things first background information about connections
First Things First: Background Information about Connections

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opening thought
Opening Thought:
  • “Learning is a very human activity” (Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2009, p. 129)

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why think about connections
Why think about connections?
  • Even early in research, connections were noted as important.
  • Terry, 2001, stated, “an obvious positive aspect associated with the online community is the potential to improve course quality by making the virtual classroom more than a technology based correspondence course” (p. 9).
  • However, Terry also noted that, “the most significant problem with the online community is that course time and efforts are used on a subject that is not directly related to course content” (p. 9).

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slide6
More about “time”:
  • Dykman and Davis (2008): “[Instructors] also need to learn to cultivate and sustain relationships with their students online, which can be a time consuming… process but which is also a critical part of online teaching effectiveness” (p. 158).
    • Online vs. face-to-face
    • Misunderstandings and unclear expectations

Dykman, C., & Davis, C.. (2008). Online Education Forum: Part Two - Teaching Online Versus Teaching Conventionally. Journal of Information Systems Education, 19(2), 157-164.  Retrieved April 3, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1550276871).

Please note: This presentation is being recorded.

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Dykman and Davis, continued: “When there is a failure to communicate expectations and the student is not doing what the teacher intends, the situation can deteriorate without either party realizing that there is a problem until it is too late” (p. 158).
    • Online and face-to-face
    • Prevention is key = Connections

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learning benefits
Learning Benefits

Dunlap & Lowenthal, who cite Vygotsky (1978) state:

  • “We subscribe to the theory that learning, as a human activity, occurs within a social context, with higher cognitive processes originating from social interactions.”
  • Furthermore, “[Dunlap and Lowenthal] also believe that social interaction and connection has significant influence over student engagement”
  • (p. 130, Dunlap & Lowenthal, 2009)
  • http://www.patricklowenthal.com/publications/Using_Twitter_to_Enhance_Social_Presence.pdf

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my own informal survey
My Own Informal Survey
  • Most enlightening results = Open-ended
    • I interpreted results: same amount of people wanted more connections as wanted no additional connections.
    • Some made suggestions for how to increase connections in the course (which I will discuss later).
    • NOTE: I want to thank Linda Shaffer for giving me ideas about how to use surveys!

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summary of research
Summary of Research
  • Connections are important.
  • Some students want connections more than others.
  • The amount of time connections take can be something to consider for faculty and students.

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my thoughts
My Thoughts
  • Creating connections is worth the time!
    • Learning
    • Community
  • Finding what works well for each class is probably the most effective (i.e., don’t spend time on something that the class does not want).
  • Sometimes it’s something small that can make a huge difference for students.

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next what i do strategies
Next: What I Do (Strategies)

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initial thoughts
Initial Thoughts
  • As I sat to prepare, I thought of three types of connections:
    • Content
    • Fellow classmates
    • Me (the instructor)
    • NOTE: All three of these connections are noted in research cited by Dunlap and Lowenthal (2009) including: Dunlap, Dobrovolny, & Young, 2008; Dulap, Furtak, & Tucker, 2009; and Dunlap, Sobel, & Sands, 2007.

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expanding thoughts
Expanding Thoughts
  • My list quickly doubled:
    • Content
    • Fellow classmates
    • Me (the instructor)
    • *Course site (different from content)
    • *Wider campus and community
    • *Themselves as learners
      • “Perfectly good students can ‘burn out’ and be lost” (Dykman & Davis, p. 159).

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Please note: In reality, we are working on all of these all the time… the focus shifts.

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course site beginning
Course site (beginning)
  • I make the course available 1 week early
    • I email students to let them know, but do not require login until the first day.
    • Some colleges do not allow this due to when the courses are populated (it depends!).
    • This does require some upkeep in terms of seeing who is new on the roster and making sure they get the login information in a timely manner.
    • It’s a personal preference (not required!)
    • This serves as an extended “orientation” period.

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course site
Course site
  • Syllabus/Course Website Quiz
    • Common method
    • Allow multiple attempts
  • Select Menu Items (again, orienting students is the focus)
    • Show all left menu items
    • Some might say, “Coming Soon!”
    • Supporting vs. overwhelming students

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course site19
Course site
  • “No stakes” and “low-stakes” activities:
    • Practice Turnitin.com assignment
    • Syllabus/course website quiz
    • Helps with students who have limited technology skills
    • I keep the technology simple at first
      • Before video: Screenshots
  • First lecture (more orientation)
    • Explain course site, menu items, etc…

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Course site (beginning… or beyond?)

  • To sustain help in this area: Q&A Board

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course site beginning or beyond
Course site(beginning… or beyond?)
  • Selections from the “Help! (Resources)” area.
    • Two main sections addressing the course site.

Inside “Help! (Resources)”

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Inside “Help! (Resources)”

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slide23

Inside “Help! (Resources)”

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slide24

Inside “Help! (Resources)”

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Inside “Help! (Resources)”

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course site beginning or beyond27
Course site(beginning… or beyond?)
  • Consistency:
    • “Following a regular module structure throughout an online course helps to establish and sustain the pace of the course and makes it easier for students to keep track of what is due and when” (Dykman & Davis, p. 158).
    • Same discussion board deadlines weekly
    • Same assignment deadlines every other week
    • Layout of weekly folders same week to week

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classmates beginning middle end whole course
Classmates (beginning, middle, end – whole course)
  • Dykman & Davis:
    • “Students sometimes feel that they are learning more from interacting with fellow students than from other aspects of an online course” (p. 160).
      • Set up this environment for them
      • Maintain the environment for them
      • Facilitate interactions
      • Probe deeper thought and discussion
      • Discussion board guidelines help

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classmates
Classmates
  • Typical ways to have classmate interaction:
    • Content-Related Discussion board
      • First week: get to know each other
        • Photos
      • Later on: How was your break? (November, Spring…)
      • Options each week
        • Types of topics
        • Encourage respectful disagreement
      • Required: initial post (word count)
      • Required: two replies to two classmates

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classmates30
Classmates

“Student Lounge” Discussion Board Area

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classmates31
Classmates
  • Remember the survey I discussed in the beginning?
    • Students wanted to have the choice of NOT sharing email addresses.
    • Some students wanted to share email addresses.
    • Created an area where students could make the choice.

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classmates32
Classmates
  • Surveys themselves create connections between classmates:
    • Post results about class
    • See how they compare/contrast with classmates

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classmates34
Classmates
  • Online Review Sessions through Elluminate Live!
    • Exam study sessions
    • Project descriptions
    • Specific topics

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classmates35
Classmates
  • Meeting in person (Make a Difference Day):
  • YouTube Video URL:
    • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wQt5imErNq4
  • Service Learning Program Contact:
    • Carol Wilkinson: cwilkinson@miracosta.edu

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me beginning middle end the whole course
Me (beginning, middle, end – the whole course)
  • Dykman & Davis:
    • “Structured, regular communication is a basic principle behind teaching online. Friendliness, diligence, and empathy all play a role with students.”
    • (p. 160)

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slide37
Me
  • Some of the things that connect classmates together, also connect students with me:
    • Discussion boards
      • Help boards, weekly boards, “getting to know you” boards (I reply to all “getting to know you” posts through email)
    • “Make a Difference Day” (or other in-person events)
    • Online Review Sessions
      • Possibly better for connecting with me than with fellow classmates

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slide38
Me
  • Emails I receive (direct email link in course)
  • Google Talk Chatback Badge
    • Not my idea! (Thank you: Pilar Hernandez, Lisa Lane, and Jim Sullivan)
    • http://www.google.com/support/talk/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=86171

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slide39
Me
  • Emails I send(copied in “Announcements”):
    • Individual emails when a student submits early work (e.g., “Congrats!”)
    • Individual email when students miss an assignment or discussion (e.g., “Hope all’s well.”)
    • Individual email about discussion board content (e.g., “Here’s more detail for you.”)
    • Group email about discussion boards, graded items (feedback), reminders, etc…

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slide40
Me
  • Office Hours
    • I ask students what they want in a survey:

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slide42
Me
  • “About the Professor” Area:
    • Staff information
    • Office hours
    • Email
    • Hobbies, experience, etc…
      • For example:
        • Teach preschool
        • Photography in documentation of children’s work

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slide43
Me
  • Written Feedback
    • My most-used method
      • Written comments for weekly discussions
      • Written feedback on assignments
      • Grademark (Turnitin.com) makes this easy
    • This semester: Experimenting with Jing!
      • Project descriptions
      • Feedback (individual)
      • Short explanations
      • http://www.jingproject.com/

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slide44

http://www.screencast.com/users/CDProfLaura/folders/Jing/media/b230675b-7818-48f6-9e97-c44b15e640e7http://www.screencast.com/users/CDProfLaura/folders/Jing/media/b230675b-7818-48f6-9e97-c44b15e640e7

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slide46
Me
  • Audio
    • Wimba:
      • Not my idea! (Thank you: Pilar Hernandez)
    • MP3 Files - Audacity
    • Content: Weekly Overviews

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slide47
Me
  • Making sure I am approachable!

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content beginning middle end
Content (beginning, middle, end)
  • Lectures – “Conversation Starters”
    • Ask questions
    • Prompt students to do an activity
    • Encourage deeper thought
    • Prepare for readings
    • Highlight technical aspects of reading
    • Give examples
    • Provide more information
    • Tie into discussion boards

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content
Content
  • Videos
    • Also tie into discussion boards/lectures
    • Captioning
    • Transcripts
    • http://www.intelecomonline.net/
      • MiraCosta has a login (can get from library)
      • Embed videos into course

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content50
Content
  • Discussions
    • Ask questions relevant to students’ experiences
      • May have different opinions
      • May share examples from work/life
      • Require incorporation of course concepts
      • The way you do this depends on the discipline and your students

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content51
Content
  • To know how to connect content to students, I ask questions in a survey at the beginning of the semester such as:

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content52
Content
  • Survey – Checking in about Student Learning Outcomes

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content53
Content
  • Collaborative Study Guides
    • Discussion board
    • Google Documents
    • Wikis (probably!)

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wider campus community beginning and middle
Wider campus/community (beginning and middle)
  • Demystifying the student help desk
    • Talk to them about how I use it!
  • Posting the website for the service learning office
  • Posting resources about the profession
    • Community agencies
    • Profession-specific (e.g., California Child Development Permit information)
  • Service events (e.g., “Make a Difference Day”)

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slide55

Inside “Help! (Resources)”

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slide56

Inside “Help! (Resources)”

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wider campus community
Wider campus/community
  • Looking out into the community:

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self as learner beginning middle and end
Self as learner (beginning, middle, and end)
  • Self-assessments (self-reflections)
    • Dialogue between the student and I
    • Currently doing two:
      • Three weeks into the course
      • Just past the halfway point of the course
    • Have student look at their own progress
    • Encourage the student to make plans and come up with strategies for success
    • Invite open, honest questions
      • I respond to all of these
    • Students almost always earn full credit unless brief, inaccurate, or late

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self as learner
Self as learner
  • Study help
    • Discussion boards set up for students helping students
  • Originality reports
    • I allow students to view originality reports on Turnitin.com work
    • Allow students to resubmit work until the deadline

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self as learner60
Self as learner
  • Discussion Board Guidelines (the short version):
    • 1) Did I meet the deadlines? 
    • 2) Did I integrate course information in my initial post (actually mention some detailed specifics from the reading and/or quote the book or lecture)? 
    • 3) Did I write a reply that makes people want to reply back to me? 
    • 4) Did I add something new to the discussion board with my post? 
    • 5) Did I write a lot more than just “me, too” or “I agree?” 
    • 6) Did I include a detailed personal or professional example to help illustrate the concepts more deeply? 
    • 7) Did I write well (appropriate grammar, spelling, and punctuation)? 
    • 8) Did I provide references when the idea was not mine? 
    • 9) Did I meet the posting minimum for number of words?
    • 10) Was everything I wrote respectful of my classmates, instructor, and others?
    • 11) Was I 100% confidential in my post?

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in sum six areas for connections
In sum – Six areas for connections:
  • Content
  • Fellow classmates
  • Me (the instructor)
  • Course site (different from content)
  • Wider campus and community
  • Themselves as learners

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never forget the quote from the beginning of the workshop
Never forget the quote from the beginning of the workshop:

“Teaching online is an exercise in continual incremental improvements” (Dykman & Davis, 2008, p. 162)

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resources and works cited
Resources and Works Cited
  • Dunlap, J. C., Dobrovolny, J. L, and Young, D. L. (2008). “Preparing eLearning Designers Using Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning.” Innovate, Vol. 4, No. 4. [Online journal – http://innotateonline.info/?view=article&id=490]
  • Dunlap, J. C., Furtak, T. E., and Tucker, S. A. (2009). “Designing for Enhanced Conceptual Understanding in an Online Physics Course.” TechTrends, Vol. 53, No. 1, pp. 67-73.
  • Dunlap, J., & Lowenthal, P.. (2009). Tweeting the Night Away: Using Twitter to Enhance Social Presence. Journal of Information Systems Education, 20(2), 129-135.  Retrieved April 3, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1755224721).
  • Dunlap, J. C., Sobel, D. M., and Sands, D. (2007). “Supporting Students’ Cognitive Processing in Online Courses: Designing for Deep and Meaningful Student-to-Content Interactions.” TechTrends, Vol. 51, No. 4, pp. 20-31.
  • Dykman, C., & Davis, C.. (2008). Online Education Forum: Part Two - Teaching Online Versus Teaching Conventionally. Journal of Information Systems Education, 19(2), 157-164.  Retrieved April 3, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1550276871).
  • Terry, N.. (2001). ORGANIZING AN ONLINE COMMUNITY. Allied Academies International Conference. Academy of Educational Leadership. Proceedings, 6(2), 8-10.  Retrieved April 3, 2010, from ABI/INFORM Global. (Document ID: 1557131741).
  • Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind In Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  • W Randall Thomas, & S Kim MacGregor. (2005). Online Project-Based Learning: How Collaborative Strategies and Problem Solving Processes Impact Performance. Journal of Interactive Learning Research, 16(1), 83-107.  Retrieved April 3, 2010, from ProQuest Education Journals. (Document ID: 857277771).
  • --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Also: Thank you to Lisa Lane, Jim Sullivan, and Pilar Hernandez for numerous ideas shared at the Program for Online Teaching mini conference this Spring 2010 and last Fall 2009.
  • Thank you to all of my colleagues in the Pedagogy First! Blog and POT certificate program. I get so many ideas from all of you!

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technology resources
Technology Resources
  • Elluminate live: http://www.elluminate.com/
  • Jing: http://www.jingproject.com/
  • Screen Hunter: http://wisdom-soft.com/products/screenhunter_free.htm
  • Google Documents: https://www.google.com/
  • Intelecom: http://www.intelecomonline.net/

Please note: This presentation is being recorded.