This week’s assignment was a very valuable experience to me. I am pretty technically oriented, I love finding out about new tools that I can use online but, having said that, I’m really busy (aren’t we all!) and so usually do not spend the time to fully understand all the ways I can use the new tool. I learn the basic features, start using it and don’t ever learn everything it can do for me. So being forced to look deeply at one tool in particular, then read the experiences of others and do the class readings gave me a wonderful opportunity to more deeply understand tools I have been using and find out about some I hadn’t.
I chose to do my assignment on Dropbox, something I really like using and I thought it would be not only helpful for others to learn about but I might learn more about it myself. And I did! My biggest problem using Dropbox and sharing folders has always been when others with whom I shared the folder would remove some item and I would no longer be able to find it. I had no idea that as the creator of the folder, I could go in and locate deleted files. As part of my research into Dropbox I read the blogs of other teachers and found people using it in ways that had not occurred to me and then found this gem of information:
“As the owner of this Dropbox account, you’ll be able to see what was deleted, when, and by whom. You can restore any deleted file or (if a student modified it) revert to an earlier version.” (Powerful Learning Practice Blog)
Well, if I had known that it would have saved me many accusatory emails over the time I have been using it!
I also enjoyed reading and watching the assignments done by other classmates. I had never heard of Voice Thread or Edmodo. Now I want to jump in and start using Voice Thread. What an interesting tool.
As I have read and researched these last few weeks I keep thinking about the students I work with. These are mostly students in the trades department at our community college. Some are coming back to reeducate themselves, are older and not too comfortable with technology so even though I might love the idea of using a Virtual World, for example, would they? I think the pitfalls discussed, might apply to many of them. “Be prepared that some students may have difficulty participating”. (Ko and Rossen, Chapter 6).
I like the idea, (Dawley, Chapter 9), of instant messaging and can see how younger students would embrace it, but some of my students type tediously slowly, so it would be hard for them to interact with the class fluidly. I also have had students who, in this financial crisis, are living in their cars and their computer access is limited to what we have on campus. These computers often do not have the latest software updates, such as Java, and so I need to keep in mind how technically frustrated they might get. Once I linked to a wonderful website that had interactive infrared imaging examples, only to find that several people in the class could not view it because of the campus computers. Our computers also stream You Tube extremely slowly for some reason.
Another idea I like is that of of using short video clips, and have found students like them also (Ko and Rossen, Chapter 6). In my Coursera class I really enjoy how the instructor uses short clips of himself talking interspersed with photos and slides. He obviously uses a green screen and this is something I am excited to try in the next module of this class. The students I teach are often visual learners and I think the more visual content I can provide, the more they will enjoy the course.
I also love the idea of role-playing a scenario over a period of time, allowing students to choose their characters. (Dawley, Chapter 4). I teach a class, “Green Building Policies, Codes and Incentives”, and even though it is not online, in the next year I will be bringing it online. I can imagine what wonderful interactions might come up if I created a scenario where students were a green builder, a hostile conventional builder, a code official, a homebuyer, a policy maker etc. I think they would really enjoy interacting with each other in different roles and being given the opportunity to understand different perspectives on issues. Doing this in a discussion forum online really excites me.
I found the advice about discussion prompts and posting requirements to be extremely helpful. This is something I have struggled with. I have always felt that my instructions about how to participate in a discussion forum were not clear enough. I like this paragraph: “In your reply, go beyond agreeing or disagreeing. What connections can you make? Offer suggestions, insights, new information gleaned from outside readings”. (Dawley, p 77)
This module has been such fun and so interesting. I really look forward to the time I spend in this class each week and hope to make my online classes as engaging for my students.
Dawley, Lisa. (2007) The Tools for Successful Online Teaching
Ko, Susan and Rossen, Steve. (2010). Teaching Online
Powerful Learning Practice Blog. Dropbox. http://plpnetwork.com/2012/08/10/dropbox-a-superb-classroom-tool/