Friday, December 16, 2011

811 Final Reflection

                Upon reviewing this blog and my portfolio for this course, the areas for improvements seem to be a little consistent with past personal experience. Time management and attention to detail seem to be normal speed bumps for me. Added to these, was a newer challenge, where as in the last course 810, it seemed to focus on the technology (which I will admit I pretty comfortable with), this 811 course was more about adopting and exploring teaching methods with technology. This was a challenge in that I have little experience in teaching methodologies. I am capable of research and did not find this debilitating, but rather found it interesting and enjoyed learning the material. 

                The combination of time management and new material most significantly showed itself in the UDL assignment and discussion. Though I thought my post was insightful I must admit I got a little “gun shy” with the UDL assignment itself. I seemingly was challenged with motivating myself to complete the assignment. As I recall the assignment was based a previous lesson plan assignment, and though I did ok with the lesson plan, I felt challenged to apply the lesson plan to the UDL assignment. My lesson plan was designed to be a relatively informal lesson and I kind of struggled to apply the UDL assignment to it. I do see a personal characteristic showing though here too, I’m not sure if it is the Leo in me, but I struggle to motivate myself to complete work that I feel I would not be good at. I kept putting the assignment off until the last chance to get any credit, then opted to work on other assignments and try to get them in on time instead. I really should finish the assignment; logic tells me that if something is going to challenge me to submit quality work, then it’s the right type of assignment for me to be working on. 

                I finished one of the last assignments early (not by much, but maybe a day or two) but to my delight, I was afforded some feedback and an opportunity to resubmit for some lost points. I think this may have been mentioned to me, but sometimes it takes the experience to have it set in. I noted this and look forward to making this a goal in the future. After 135 credits one would hope I would have already realized and had this goal, but alas. 

                I can be critical at times…. Ok maybe most of the time. I also like to think that I’m open to criticism and generally objective. I also can be distracted and over complicate things. One thing I do sometimes is self deprecate to cover up or rationalize personal failings. It can be enlightening and helpful to be call out on it every now and then.

                As far as the technologies used in the course, I thought I did pretty well. The StAIR could have been improved. I could have used the technology that the lesson was about, I had originally thought to use Power Point because it’s a school supported application, but after reflecting on a comment about my choice and preferring the web application I think it would have been beneficial to have used Moodle instead. Another assignment I struggled with, not with the technology but rather an idea was the webpage. The assignment called to create a website I could use for my work, and after trying to come up with something cool, I ended up just settling with a generic concept for a online resume thing. I did not want to drag out the idea too long and lose the points altogether like I did with the UDL assignment. I really wished I did better on that webpage assignment.

                Regarding future plans for technology, well they will stem from work and more school. I am finishing up the third course in this certificate program this spring and also I am taking an advanced SQL course at LCC (hey it's free!). I have already started training with Desire2Learn through work and frankly it will be a large focus for me for the next couple months.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Online Teaching Experiences

               I was asked to reflect on online technologies and their applications in my teaching experience. I may not be an educator per se, but I am elbow deep in online education in my occupation. Supporting my organization’s online course management system is one of my primary duties. 

                I have seen all types of content online, from nursing to astrology to speech courses. In most cases online content is mainly run through a learning management system (LMS). My organization has two LMSs, one for student course work and another for Human Resources.  HR utilizes a seemingly “homegrown” windows binary script LMS to train new hires on policies, hazards and sexual harassment awareness. Enrollment Services and the academic departments use a contracted service LMS (currently Angel) for new student orientations and course management. 

Every course is given a section in Angel. This allows teachers in face-to-face classes an opportunity to post handouts, grades, extra credit and maybe even “flip” the classroom. Classroom flipping is essentially recording your lectures for students to take home, and then use the class time to work on assignments and team projects. 

Another interesting note, outside of LMS, training content is also delivered online within a few of our divisions and departments. In my division there is one department (PC Techs) who use a wiki to update and comment on common issues and fixes. We, in the Help Desk have a “Handbook” which is really just a word document saved on a secured workspace server. 

I would imagine that the list for pedagogical strategies that would work with online technology is pretty long. I think it would be important to be aware of strategies that would be less efficient online, things that may require hands on or physical sensations like tasting. Even still, these challenges can be a lesson in themselves. And in history, these types of challenges have contributed the innovations that have helped made the online environment a reality. 

What are the technologies that tend to be difficult for students?  I think this a great question and the heart and soul of online learning. I really think the buck stops here. As a communication major and a career customer service provider, I really think end-user usability is paramount in any informational technology application, especially online learning.  As level one support, I have a unique opportunity for candid feedback from students and instructors. 

Firstly I think that there are good and bad version of a lot of technologies, so for example, the “homegrown” LMS for HR is a lot more unfriendly then Angel, which is arguably more unhandy then Moodle. The HR system requires the trainee to be using a school machine with a school email account profile set up in Outlook, bah! Angel is not terrible (though some may argue) my experience in Moodle rooms leads me to feel that it is more intuitive then Angel, for both the instructor and the student. 

But even within any given LMS, courses can be unorganized and misleading. Some teachers in an effort to liven up their course add fonts and colors, which if not select with some degree of awareness can make things difficult to read, especially for partially blind or color blind. Over use of “Flash” will bug iPad users. Big long high res video lectures can take a long time to load, keep in mind some students are still dialing-it-up out in the boonies. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Wikis Lab

                I often turn to Wikipedia to look up stuff almost every day. Whether it is on my phone or at work or for school, I am seemly always looking up stuff on Wikipedia. In this assignment I was asked to add something to my schools Wikipedia page and to create my own wikis. I chose to add an entry to Lansing Community College’s article by adding a section for the Early LCC preschool and daycare that opened last year. 


The Wikis that I created ( is a catalog of technologies that I have reviewed in this blog. I added a link to the Wikis in the widget on the side. And I also quickly added the technologies I have already reviewed in past posts.

Saturday, November 12, 2011


                The material I found in MERLOT is a pdf document titled, The challenge of teaching information technology, authored and contributed by Steve Mallard. The article points out some challenges facing teaching technology and outlines some key areas of knowledge required in today’s technical support field.
                The document seems to meet its intended goal. It is a short and accurate description of key areas of knowledge required by IT personal, and suggestions on classroom curriculum needs. This is not a media rich presentation, but I believe that the article does function as an effective learning tool. This article serves as a brief and general explanation of the areas focused on by IT personal. A learner will gain a general understanding of key terms such as Mobile Computing, Desktop Support, Server Support, Networking and Wireless Technologies, Security and Cloud Computing.  This information is useful to individuals teaching the general material and coveys these are broadening areas of knowledge. The material can be used as a reference in junction with other research or lecture. It could be added as additional reading or included with a news letter or departmental email. Its compact design suits well to busy multitasking learners and educators.
                The simplicity of article makes the information easily accessible and easy to refer back to. The choice in media allows this to be view on most devices, including smart-phones, iPads/Pods and computers regardless of operating systems. It could be emailed, downloaded, hyper-linked, printed and easily converted to real life knowledge (remembered). The language is technical to a degree, but unambiguous and the terms should be familiar to the intended audience