Friday, September 9, 2016

Welcome to EDC525---"Website Technology in Education and Training"


Welcome to EDC525---"Website Technology in Education and Training"

This title is a bit outdated and doesn't clearly convey the content of this course.  It could, and some day soon will, be called, "Using Technology to Teach the Adult Learner."

Throughout this semester we will be covering a vast amount of information (but don't be too intimidated). Information and new developments about this content are exploding exponentially, so it's challenging even for me to stay current.

New sessions will be posted (here on our class edublog once a week (by the end of the day on Thursday).   I was going to explain why we are using this site when we see each other, but now I'll try to convey the details virtually. 

I've sat through countless training sessions, lectures, workshops, and classes and have learned that there is no substitute for experience. Following this mindset, I decided to have you immediately dive right into one of the first tools that we will be playing with and experimenting on.  

This online service is called, "Blogger" aka "Blogspot".  It is owned by a Google, so it is in your best interest (when signing up) to use a Google account (if you have one).  

Ordinarily, we have our first face-to-face (f2f) meeting at URI's Providence campus (Shepard Building)  in room 317 from 4-6:30ish. We then normally would meet again for a mid-semester f2f and at the end of the term for Final Presentations. As you know, due to the overwhelming amount of personal requests for a special accommodations from course participants, I polled the class and it was decided to have our first session virtually.  This means that you will have to dive right in and may have to struggle a bit until you get the hang of this venue.

This site will be our class blog.  I'm sure by now you are all aware of what a blog is.  The term is short for 'web log'.  It's format is similar to many sites you may have used and we will be using this blog as our home page.  

Each week, you will visit here and read my weekly posting.  Often from there you will be tasked with visiting, experimenting, and using additional online resources, all of which have the potential to aid you in your endeavors to impart your vast trove of knowledge upon others.  

Please keep in mind that there are new developments and trends in online information every day, therefore we may have to be flexible when interpreting the syllabus. This may mean some modifications, changes and condensing of information. 

To ensure that we are covering the most current skills and content, I will be assimilating and collating information right up until the moment I post a session. This means that each session's link (over in the left-hand margin) will not be accessible until its respective Thursday. Even so, there may be times during a session when a cited link is dead. If that is the case, I will try to keep saved copies of all the information. Just email me (davefontaine1@gmail.com) and I will forward the data to you.

During the first few sessions we will be covering foundational skills. This is to ensure that we all have the basic essentials of online andragogy ‘down pat’. Once this is covered, we will pick up the pace and begin to delve into the mechanics, nuances, and meat of our course.

PLEASE DON'T FEEL OVERWHELMED this first week and pace yourself going through the links and readings.

Normally, I will go through all of the content in this blog posting f2f during our first session, so if you run into trouble or hit a techno-speedbump along the way, I could help.  Feel free to reach out to me with any questions if that's the case.

To ensure continuous accessibility to the information within these weekly presentations I suggest you immediately download, and save the sessions, to your computer.  Not every week's session will be downloadable, (Week 1 is mostly readings w/o a video session to download, so don't look for a link for this week.) but many will be. I cannot emphasize this enough. Along the left-hand margin, there will be a link for each session, but not Week 1. When you click on this link you may be prompted to 'save' or 'open' the session.

Always save it to your desktop (or in a folder somewhere on your computer). Previous class participants have found it easiest to organize if they create a folder and store all the sessions in one place. Another option would be to right-click on the link and choose, 'save link as.'

Saving’ the sessions will decrease problems relating to your bandwidth. Also, although it may take a while for a presentation to download (up to 10 min. or more depending upon the speed of your connection) it will be much easier to toggle between a PowerPoint and the Internet if you have it saved to your hard drive. Weekly sessions will also become portable if you save them to a thumb drive, so if you want to take them from home to work, or vice-versa that will be easiest.

Additionally, you will need to have access to a computer that has PowerPoint version ’97 or above to view the presentations. We spoke during our first meeting about alternative presentation tools other than PowerPoint, so (As an alternative I will also upload a copy of each week's session to an online service where you can stream it live. You will find that link at the bottom of each weekly posting.)  

As I mentioned earlier, I teach this course completely from a blog. This will help those of you who have little, to no, experience with blogs.  You get to practice, participate, and even create your own, so that, down the road, you can make an educated decision about how this tool may best be used for your future teaching environment.


I'll give you all some time to practice with this a little and contact you Saturday night with our first official weekly session, so look for an email from me directing you back to this blog where you will find more details.  

I believe in immersing you in the technological tools that I am trying to expose you to, so that is one of the main reasons why I am teaching this course from a blog.  This will give you first-hand experience using a blog and also by uploading my sessions to the online service (Authorstream.com), you will again see the distinctions between traditional slideshow tools and online services that store all of your material in the cloud.  Hybridized and/or Blended Learning are the new models of andragogy that many colleges and universities are embracing, so most of our focus will be upon how online tools can be used to Flip your classroom. Skim this article for an overall idea.

Please remember that we are all educators/trainers (or some day may be), and that this is a collaborative course. In that same vein, we will all be sharing our thoughts and ideas together, so as you post your reflections and comments we will all be responding to you, therefore, timely responses are imperative. After you have posted your weekly assignment/reflection, make an effort to return again later to read and comment about other participants’ assignments and perspectives.

Once again remember that we are all perpetual learners; constantly growing. I hope to learn as much from you---as you will from me.

Saturday evening I will update this page with information about our first session. Along the left-hand margin you will see the syllabus, but truthfully, I will be updating it weekly, so it might be a better idea if you just save a shortcut to the live version.   There isn't a required, purchasable text, but for those of you that want more depth on blogs and wikis then I recommend Will Richardson's book.  Don't worry if it takes a week to arrive.

You may order it from most online book sellers. Until then you may want to read it online (not ideal and you usually can't access the entire text), but here is the link: Wikis, Blogs, and Podcasts
You could also check your local library here.

If you run into problems, please review the directions again. It is not uncommon for participants to 'stumble' a little getting used to this forum.

Thank you and please feel free to contact me with any questions you may have along the way.

Please follow the links below to read an overview of Week 1. As you go through it, explore the links for more detailed information.  When finished with the Overview begin to go through the additional readings/directions 1.1, 1.2... to build your foundation for this semester's content.


1.1--Who is the Virtual Student

1.2--Who is the Virtual Teacher

1.3--Who We Are (it's all about the people)

Good Luck and have fun.  I'll post the rest of Week 1 by Saturday night.


Dave Fontaine
eBook, eLearning, and eContent Specialist
National Board Certified Educator
DaveFontaine1@gmail.com
401-835-3782

65 comments:

  1. Post your comments here when you are ready.

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  2. Thoughts on first session’s questions: Who is the Virtual Student?

    After reviewing the characteristics of successful online learners, do you maintain all, none, or some of the traits?
    I do feel I maintain some of the characteristics of the online learner. I agree with the article that you have to be learner-centered and learner-focused. As an older student, learning to maneuver through the variety of new technology that changes so fast, has been challenging. But as I learn each one, I feel more empowered and motivated to move forward.

    Are some characteristics of successful online learners more important than others?
    I believe all make up the piece of the pie, all are important. Empowering and mentoring students will always be at the forefront. I think for many years there has been a culture that online courses are easy and the willingness for many colleges to adapt to offering them has been reluctant. But, that is the farthest thing from the truth. Some much goes into online learning and teaching. Overall though, I think for this age of technology there still lacks the amount of online classes offered as a whole in regular colleges or universities. Flexibility will need to be required in moving forward in taking online courses, as well as teaching them.

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    1. Heidi, I think that you and Jason have narrowed in on how difficult it is to take an online course due to the independence it affords. An outsider may think that having more freedom online would result in it being an easier way to learn, but it is just the opposite, especially if you are not an organized student.

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    2. You hit the nail on the head when you pointed out the common misconception that online courses are easy. I've found that more time and effort (and discipline) must be used in the online setting. We've been fortunate to be part of a great group of people involved in this program, I have found that working together has been so helpful!

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    3. Very true. I've also noticed that the workload to 'prepare' an online course is heavier as well. If any of you become online instructors or if you just do a hybridized course of instruction you'll find that you have to try to anticipate the questions and answer them ahead of time. Whereas in a f2f setting you can easily go back and forth with Q&A's.

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  3. Session I Responses

    I believe all the Necessary Online Learner Characteristics are equally important, and in fact, some of them appear to be contingent upon others.
    Openness and honesty go hand in hand. Our classmates are very busy, and deserve to be respected. If you are not going to be open and honest, why should someone take the time to read and respond to your comments?
    Flexibility and humor are important, as well. We need to be able to be flexible when things go wrong, or when a classmate tries to offer constructive criticism. The use of humor is a constructive way to keep our community positive and safe for everyone.
    In order for an online community to work efficiently, we need to work together, and attempt to master all of the Necessary Online Learner Characteristics.


    Some of the characteristics may be more difficult for some learners. I do not have a problem being honest or open and stating that I am not as comfortable with technology as I should be. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone struggled with this characteristic though, especially if this is the first online course they are taking.
    Due to the fact that we are studying rather independently, some learners may find it difficult to touch base with our community regularly. You need to remember that even though your posting is completed, you must reflect on the postings of other classmates, as well.
    We are all different, and what is easy and comfortable for one person, may not be as easy and comfortable for another.

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    1. Yes I agree, sometimes learners may find it difficult working independently...it helps if you can get connected to your classmates for support such as this :)

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    2. I agree with you Gail. I find that it is important to incorporate all online characteristics for learners. I think being an on-line student makes it is easier for students to participate because it is more anonymous. Openness and honesty go hand-in-hand not matter if it is a f2f course or online, but I think people can let their shields down online and dabble in humor a bit more than they might usually do.

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    3. Agreed, Gail. Especially where you point out that where one person may find something easy and comfortable, another may have some struggles. One of the things I have noticed is our fellow learners have been very supportive, and I know that has had a positive effect on me and in the areas where I struggle, especially the openness trait. Still some leftover cop habits...

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    4. Gail,
      I appreciate your respect and awareness of the different pace in which learners will develop skills. These differences can be hard to anticipate. For the learner that takes longer than most, this can be a tremendous source of embarrassment.

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  4. The following are my thoughts about the first session’s questions:

    • After reviewing the characteristics of successful online learners, do you maintain all, none, or some of the traits?

    I think that once I add some oil to the rusted technology sections of my grey matter, I will be able to adhere to the characteristics depicted in the week one articles. As an older student, these things certainly do not come effortlessly or easily, but I am flexible, honest, willing and am definitely finding humor in the duration and frustration I am encountering trying to complete the simplest technological tasks!!


    • Are some characteristics of successful online learners more important than others?

    I believe it all depends on who is being taught and what they are learning. As mentioned in the readings, online education is a very broad term in the 21st Century. Online learning is being utilized as soon as kindergarten and well into and beyond graduate school. For each task at hand, it will be necessary to define what the expected learner must poses to yield a successful educational experience. I think the ability to be flexible is very important because as we learned, what is in today can be out tomorrow – i.e. the trend of blogging, once very popular with teens, is becoming less so and is now appealing to an older audience. Also, the culture of online is showing us how flexible we need to become even in the most basic fashion regarding writing. The historical breakdown of the experiences of composition was so enlightening, and it is intriguing to think of where technology will take it next.

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    1. Hi Sharyn,
      I see that you used the humor characteristic! I too have some rusty brain sections, I'm hoping this class will provide some of the oil. Good point that the different characteristics can carry more or less weight depending on who is being taught and what the topic is. Technology often changes, which is why I think we all must stay flexible and try to keep open minds.

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    2. In some ways its exciting and scary to where new technology will take us next, especially how fast it changes. Online technology still is a little resistant for many today and a very broad term in the 21st Century as you stated.

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  5. • Are some characteristics of successful online learners more important than others?

    I think that being able to work collaboratively with the instructor and each other is more important than the other characteristics, especially as adult learners. We all have different goals and expectations for this course and it is up to all of us to help each other reach those goals by challenging each other to reach a deeper level of thinking (scaffolding, anyone?). Like many of my classmates, this is unchartered territory for me. I am looking forward to learning from Dave and from those of you who are familiar with this subject, and I also hope to provide at least one of you with an “ah ha!” moment.


    • Beyond something like access issues, which traits are harder to overcome than others?

    I believe that being open is probably one of the traits that are harder to overcome as an online learner. I do not believe that this will be an issue for many of us in this class because we have met face to face, already know each other and (for many of us) have developed relationships outside of the classroom. This is not always the case for students who enroll into an online class where there isn’t any face-to-face interaction involved, and so being open about personal experiences can be difficult and take much longer to develop because of the lack of trust. For example, would we have polled differently if the majority of us had not already known each other?

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    1. Good point Luz. As my reply to Gail stated, I thought that the autonomy of being online would lead to students to be more open, but I think you make a valid point also.

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    2. Hi Luz,
      I thought the same regarding the openness characteristic. It can be hard to form bonds with others when you've never really have the opportunity to meet them face to face. We are fortunate that many of us have been in learning groups together and had the chance to get more comfortable with one another. Overall, I think the flexibility of an online program makes it a great fit for the adult learner, who must also exhibit flexibility.

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    3. Luz,
      I am worried about the openness of students if we develop a pre-enrollment course. We actually have a hard time with students being open in face to face classes. Many cite anxiety issues or lack social skills to help them feel comfortable speaking in a class. I expect this to become a bigger barrier for some if they perceive the online experience as isolating.

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    4. I agree that it can be uncomfortable to be open before you really know your classmates; but I don't ever remember feeling hesitant to be honest or open in this program - even in the beginning. I think that a great deal of that comfort level is due to the person in charge of the course. If the instructor is respectful, warm, and approachable, it sets the tone for the entire class.

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    5. Let's hope I fulfill your ideal instructor Gail.

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  6. Below is my response to two of the questions posed:

    1)After reviewing the characteristics of successful online learners, do you maintain all, none, or some of the traits?

    Most definitely! One thing that stuck out to me in the reading was the ability to have "a sense of humor". As I said in my intro, I am actually teaching an online class and one of the things that is essential is to be able to laugh when things go wrong and not take yourself to seriously. Looking at this from both the perspective of a student and teacher, things will not always go as planned, and while college course work should be challenging, it should not be stressful to the point of a breakdown.

    2) Beyond something like access issues, which traits are harder to overcome than others?

    I think the hardest thing to overcome as an online learner is the (for lack of a better word) independence required. In a traditional learning environment, one shows up for class, takes notes and then completes an assignment. This is different for the online learner in that you can only get out of the class exactly what you put into it. For many students this is a challenge that exceeds the technological barriers one may encounter.

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    1. I like to think that I could find humor when things I have planned don’t go as expected when teaching, but knowing myself, it would be something I would really need to work on. Maybe you can give me some pointers!!

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    2. I like to think that I could find humor when things I have planned don’t go as expected when teaching, but knowing myself, it would be something I would really need to work on. Maybe you can give me some pointers!!

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    3. Hi Jason,
      The online learning environment is great, and you are correct that perhaps the biggest challenge to overcome for the student can be putting in the consistent time and effort required. One has to be a self directed learner that devotes the time and energy necessary to succeed.

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    4. Jason,
      I agree with the need to conquer independence becoming heightened in the online environment.

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    5. Thanks for the feedback. This is actually my first semester for, both, taking and teaching an online course. I agree that staying on task is very difficult sometimes, especially with so many distractions.

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    6. when I taught, I always prepared "extra," just in case something happened and I had to switch gears.

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    7. I couldn't agree more that humor is an essential trait needed for any type of training or class that is dependent on technology. I hold training sessions that require the use of a training database and 9 out of 10 times, something goes wrong. It helps to be able to laugh and use humor to put everyone at ease, especially when technology is concerned. Many people are overwhelmed with it and at the first sign of something going wrong, they can panic.

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  7. I’ve found it difficult at times to stay on task in the online classroom setting. What has been helpful to me is organizing the tasks into either digital or paper folders and setting alerts on my calendar to remind me to set aside time for completing assignments. One thing is for sure, as a learner in an online setting, there is a great responsibility to both stay on task and work collaboratively with others.

    Something I have struggled a bit with is being open about the personal details of my life. In fact, as a police officer, it was an officer safety issue to release too many personal details. In fact, I stopped wearing a wedding band at work because an observant suspect once noticed the ring after being arrested and threatened my family. However, in this educational setting, I have definitely opened up more and have become more comfortable in discussing my personal, work, and school experiences.

    One thing I have noticed is that the use of humor and going with the flow in an online course has been a great way to keep a positive learning environment. I have been very fortunate to be involved with other students that have been very flexible and helpful to one another. Group meeting times were always chosen in a collaborative manner to ensure that all the group members could attend and contribute to the group.

    Regarding the necessary learner characteristics in the article, I truly believe that openness, flexibility and humor, and working collaboratively are key to a successful online learning process. I’ve experienced firsthand the importance of those traits, and hope to continue exhibiting those behaviors during my online education.

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    1. Paul,
      You bring a great sense of humor to the table both online and in person. It's interesting that you cited the struggle to share personal details and how that is kind of ingrained in you due to your policing experiences. There is a need in many professions to maintain that distance so it will be interesting to see how technology complicates or eases that need.

      My students sometimes communicate in more detail via technology.I like the ability to offer them resources in a method they can refer back to but do find myself choosing wording very carefully so that my tone is clear. Humor and emoticons help immensely!

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  9. Beyond something like access issues, which traits are harder to overcome than others?
    I believe to truly develop collaboration and further individuals' learning, all members of the group need to be actively engaged in the tasks/assignments. This can be tough when members are perceived as having different levels of confidence or engagement. Since non-verbal communication (like facial expressions & body language)is the majority of human interaction, we need to learn new strategies to mitigate lack of engagement or to develop a "voice" in an online classroom. It takes a skilled leader to draw out the spirit of collaboration from each student.

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  10. Ooops! I forgot Part Two:
    As you are finishing the first week, are you aware of the instructional techniques we are using to support the development of the traits of successful online learners?
    Yes! I think it is good to expose us to so many different tools. My experience has been that it is more effective and engaging for me to try something myself than to watch someone else present it. The application helps me to remember.

    One trait not discussed is self-discipline. In my professional world, students do have an option for online, asynchronous, self paced learning. They are expected to work on content ~5 hrs./week. It is a rare student who is successful in this structure. When one does not have the structure of deadlines and repercussions if the deadlines are not met, it is easy to lose interest or motivation to persist. What are your thoughts on developing persistence in a student taking an online course?

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    1. Self discipline is so important, Leslie. When I teach, my students have online homework assignments to complete for every chapter. I have tried a variety of methods to help my students responsibly complete these assignments without my having to remind them every week. As you can imagine, some produced better results than others!

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  11. I agree Leslie, self-discipline is often overlooked. So much of that is needed to be self-directed in online learning. I think we are trained from our own schooling in our younger years to a structure that is not flexible. Many adult learners drop from online learning because of lack of discipline. Though technology is at the forefront in our younger generation, there is a gap of online learning and especially for the older generation. Though instructors establish expectations, many still find it difficult to maneuver around in an online course. It will always come down to a strong mindset and disciple to achieve success in online learning.

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  12. 1.2- I watched Ken Robinson’s “How to Escape Educations’ Death Valley.” He spoke about our current educational culture in the United States. He was very humorous as he talked about rethinking the learning structure of our school systems. The statistics that 80% of the Native American community and 60% in some parts of the country high school students, drop out. This made me feel sad. I like the fact that he recognizes that humans are different and diverse in nature (if you have two children, are they not different, how children are curious and humans by nature are creative. With this in mind, a variety of curriculum development is needed to support their talents/learning. Teachers need to teach through stimulating, engaging and mentoring the diversity of students. In a nutshell…one size does not fit most. I like his respect regarding teachers when he states, “Teachers are the life blood of the school, if no learning is going on there is no education going on.” As teachers we need to continue to foster the learning, not just to be routine or compliant as he indicates.
    On another note, I was really shocked to see the Fast Facts about Online Learning. The statistical data was interesting and I would have not thought that was accurate. I also enjoyed Daphne Koller’s Ted Talk. I love her outreach of free higher quality education through online learning to 640k students in 190 countries. I guess I am naive at just how much online learning there really is out there. This section was eye opening for me.

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    1. I remember when online learning first began - I heard an instructor state that online teaching was not as effective as face to face teaching. In my opinion, this cannot be further from the truth. If you have a good instructor, they can meet their student's needs just as well online.

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    2. Heidi, I also liked Ken’s speech. I also found the notion that such a high percentage of Native Americans drop out of school. I feel as if we need to do more to better serve that population.

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    3. The more we study about these things the more I feel empowered to help.

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  13. Rita Pierson’s “Every Kid Needs a Champion” video applies to adult learners, as well. Teachers need to connect with their students on a human level, regardless of the age of the students.
    Adult learners are often stressed and anxious about returning to school. We need to assist them with the barriers they are facing, whether those barriers are situational, institutional, or dispositional. Forming relationships with your students helps you to build their self-esteem, and to inspire them to reach for the stars. This is true whether you are teaching face to face, or teaching an online course.
    Ms. Pierson’s energy was contagious, and I can certainly see why her students would love to be in her class.
    When I taught my first class, a student came up to me at the end and said I was very “mothering.” Being a new teacher, I agonized over this comment. I doubted my methods; was it a good thing for a student to consider me, her teacher, “mothering?”
    After completing 6 courses in this program, I have decided that comment was a very nice complement. I make an effort to be respectful and honest. I help my students to feel safe in my classroom. Students need to know their teacher cares, and will be there to assist whenever needed.
    In addition, I was not surprised that so many people participated in the free online courses (Daphne Koller.) How wonderful would it be if the best courses could always be free and available to all? If it weren't for my tuition waiver, I would not be in this program!!

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    1. Gail, I know first-hand that you go out of your way to do the best to help your students overcome the barriers that they experience being adult learners. I’m glad you learned about the free on-line courses because I know you will be able to use that information to help them further.

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    2. You provide so much care to your anxious students. You really take the time to understand them and help provide a way for them to succeed. I always appreciate your honest comments and insight that you have.

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  14. I listened to a few of the TED talks and I especially liked the one by Angela Lee Duckworth. It revolves around IQ and motivation. She explains that it isn’t always the smartest students who prevail. I think this rings true in all walks of life, especially in education. When someone couples passion and perseverance, they retain something that was coined in the video as having “Grit.” When one encompasses grit, they can change their lives. They exhibit the ability to learn based on the amount of work they put into the exercise. They know that learning is limitless and it depends on how badly they want it. This growth mindset reminds me of a story that my daughter uncovered by interviewing her great uncle. He recounted how when he grew up, he was one of seven children born to immigrants from Syria. They were extremely poor and he would see other kids his age in school who had supplies and nice clothes and from a very early age, knew that he would do whatever he could do better himself. During that time, it was common for families to have their children stop going to school to work so that the family could survive. He left school in the ninth grade and went to work in the family’s general store in Central Falls. He was able to keep a small percentage of his wages and quickly realized that if he worked more, he would earn more; not only for his family, but for himself as well. He acquired a paper delivery job and also got hired at the first cinema in town. He worked tirelessly and saved ferociously and bought his first house. It was a three-family that he rented out and with the income he received, bought another, and another, and – you get the picture. He was the most successful of his siblings, but he wasn’t the brightest. He definitely embodies what I believe it is to have “Grit.”

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    1. Yes Sharyn Angela was interesting, I am always interested in things that motivated people. I myself often look at ways that will keep me motivated in school. I am not for schools that offer the highest GPA for entry. I think school miss out on really great students by eliminating those with lower GPA'S. I agree with her that the smartest student isn't always the one who prevails.

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    2. We did discuss the topic of perseverance in several of our other courses. Some students are "tougher" than others, and will push forward, no matter what obstacles get in their way. There are other students who are so tired and overwhelmed, it doesn't take much for them to become discouraged and just give up. We have to keep working to help more students have Grit!

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    3. Sharyn,
      Hearing stories like your daughter's great uncle's is one of the most addictive parts of my Basic Education world with adults. Our ESOL learners come from many different places and circumstances to have the opportunities so many of our native born take for granted. When I get to work with them during our oral testing, I hear stories like that and have so much admiration for their tenacity and vision. Knowing their stories and their motivations helps me to reinvigorate or refocus them when things get tough.

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    4. Sharyn, I also listened to Angela Lee Duckworth's presentation on Ted Talks and completely agree with her stance on "grit" but was a little disappointed when she did not have any real answers on how to teach our students to develop this. I also agree that it must start with having a growth mindset. I guess that the first step must be to become aware of one's mindset in order to actively change it from fixed to growth. As a parent, I try to help my daughter with this everyday. I have seen her mindset shift from that of growth to fixed ever since she started attending school. This alarms me because as educators, I think it's important to instill this in our students, and I wonder how much of this is being done or not with the younger generation? It definitely affects their motivation to learn and bounce back after a challenging experience.

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  15. 1.6 I liked the mission statement for the iNACOL; to ensure all students have access to a great education as they transform grades K-12. This was a very helpful website to me. Learning about their advocacy, research and learning models and how they established their quality of standards was informative. This is a nice framework to review often as an educator as it provides valuable information to online teaching. I even looked at their Facebook page which had a lot information. They indicated that too many students fall through the cracks because one size does not fit all. As they continue to transform both policy and practice, I can see this is a wonderful organization pushing the limits and personalizing competency-based education.

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    1. Heidi, I also did some further investigating of iNACOL. I checked their website and found that they have a blog. There is valuable information about how states can stay abreast of the latest competencies and how they can utilize the latest technological advances in the classroom.

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    2. Thanks for posting about their blog. I had not found that yet.

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  16. 1-6
    It is refreshing to know that there are standards being incorporated for instructors that wish to utilize online learning, especially in grades K-12. Uniformity will help to ensure that students in those classes are given the same chance to grasp the information being disseminated in the same way. Also, ensuring that the teachers are given the proper training and tools that they will need to accomplish this is essential. Incorporating approaches like active learning and enforcing strict internet restrictions will help to facilitate the use of proper, safe computer practices. To determine whether or not these standards are being properly absorbed by the students, it will be imperative to administer clear, measurable assessments that will help the instructors uncover if learning has occurred. Moving forward, the changes and updates in technology that students in these grades will experience will be limitless. The leaders at iNACOL will need to update these standards regularly to ensure that they are always current, that the teachers are always being properly trained, and that students always receive the best online experience possible.

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  17. 1-6 I am grateful to have this reading assignment, because I was unaware these standards existed for on-line courses.I found this website to be invaluable - it is clearly written and a resource to be often revisited by many in On-line Education. Working in this field, I have witnessed the time and effort teachers have put into planning and assessment. iNACOL has helped to ensure the quality and integrity of the on-line student's education. Having reviewed this document, I am confident iNACOL will continually assess and improve their standards, which, in turn, will ensure only the best on-line learning environments for students.

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  18. I found the iNACOL website very interesting and a little overwhelming to be truthful. We have national and state standards as well as state frameworks for all three segments of our programs. There is also a state expectation that we utilize technology in our classes and that our students become digitally literate. I agree that it would be optimal for students to reach a high level of proficiency. However, our staff needs to become proficient first in order to lead the students to success. After reading the expectations for K-12 courses, I have a lot of food for thought to inform a course plan for basic skills for adults. This also makes me think deeply about course design, whether or not it is reasonable to include staff already tasked with classroom instruction with overseeing online course implementation and about how much is realistic for students of varying skill levels to accomplish while participating.

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  19. After watching TED talks I really appreciated Malcolm Landon's story. While in school environment we are always segregated in someway even if we don't see it. He states that in his school they were segregated from the honors and the regulars and that the honors were made to lead and the regulars to follow, We never truly see this segregation while we're in school. I know my middle school did that by separating our grade into colors. He tells us that "homework is stressful,but when you go home and home is work you don't want to pick up assignments and reading is stressful but reading doesn't matter when you feel your story is already written." I found those words inspiring because its the truth we stress about all these things in school but our outside life can be more stressful or more complicated than what we do at home.

    iNACOL was interesting but I feel we may not be seeing that in order for our students to succeed we need to as well. How can we expect them to be successful and reach their full potential if we don't reach our own.

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  20. I was not aware of the national and state standards for K-12 online instruction existed and found the iNACOL website very informative, but I also agree with some of the comments already made that it is also very overwhelming. Since online instruction and/or blended learning seem to be picking up speed, it may be beneficial for higher ed institutions to incorporate this into the undergraduate elementary education curriculum. It could help recent graduates hit the ground running in terms of developing blended learning for the K-12 students.

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  21. 1.1 After reviewing the characteristics of successful online learners, do you maintain all, none, or some of the traits?

    I believe I maintain many of the characteristics described in this article. First off, I 100% agree that you must be open about personal details. It is challenging to connect with someone when you are writing back and forth or talking via webcam. Letting the other party[parties] know a little about yourself can open the door and help create more meaningful conversations.

    With regards to flexibility, there was one thing that stood out to me "The issue online is that humorous comments may be misinterpreted due to the absence of visual cues." I completely agree! I have certainly noticed that some people have a tone that can be interpreted as rude, uninterested, boring, etc., however, this is more often the case when writing. I understand that they do intend to be this way, but it can be hard to interpret some language (the same issue arises on a daily basis with text messaging). To avoid this issue, the article suggested using punctuation or symbols to convey emotion. I strongly agree and will try to be better about this issue myself. :)!

    Beyond something like access issues, which traits are harder to overcome than others?

    I find that one of the most challenging aspects of online learning is time (assignments, due dates, etc.). I am very busy with my job and I take great pride in what I do. Becuase I am not going to class (face to face) it seems easier for me to get behind on assignments. Sometimes I spend WAY to much time on one task and it puts me behind with everything else. As I learned in one of my other classes this semester, I am an "easterner". This implies that I speculate and look at this big picture before completing the task. I thought this was a good explanation as to why it takes me so long to do everything. This semester I am taking three masters courses, therefore, it is imperative that I work on balancing my time. However, this was the worst week to try that.. going back to work (teaching) and beginning my own classes was a bit much. Now that I have completed many work related tasks I can focus on my own classes.

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  22. I was pleasantly blown away by the Ted Talk discussion by Ramsey Mussallam, the Chemistry teacher who talked about his 3 rules of teaching Cultivate curiosity, embrace the mess and practice reflection and revise. If I had more teachers with that outlook when I was a child, I would have probably gone into the Science field. As I was, I was scared to death and did not have very enthusiastic teachers.

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    1. Hi Chris,
      I did not view that particular Ted Talk by Ramsey Mussallam until you mentioned it. So glad I check out the video after your comment! You are so right that enthusiastic teachers can make all the difference in a student's life!

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    2. You know, sometimes I wish we could come into the world old, knowing what we know now and work our way back to infancy. Learning now that I am older is so much nicer then when I was young. I feel that I am more willing to take chances.

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  23. In reviewing the Standards of online teaching I feel that it might be difficult for The online teacher to be able to create a relationship of trust as if you are not in a face to face setting, it is hard for students to get a feel for one another and get to know your instructor. Verbal and non-verbal communication is really hard if you are in a virtual setting.

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  24. I watched the TED Talk by Pearl Arredondo. Pearl Arredondo went from gangland daughter to star teacher. Her father was a gang leader, and she had a tough childhood where she remembered seeing her father on the floor overdosing. How is a student to concentrate on studying when something like that is going on? Many of her teachers at her local junior high were not up to the task, and there was a high turnover rate. Her mother sent her an hour and a half away to a better junior high, and eventually she graduated high school and went to Pepperdine University. She has returned to her area to teach, and she decided that she was going to help kids like her to move forward. She created a safe haven for her students by creating a new school that would have more freedom to hire effective teachers and have more control over the curriculum and budget. Pearl faced a lot of opposition, and even though teachers were against it because of the one year contracts, she succeeded in making a school that is relevant to what the students are doing. The end result is that the students know that the teachers care, and students and community are proud to be part of the school. I really connected with her story because she personifies what we have been learning about adult learners – they have a life outside of school and we must have empathy for the challenges that they face. When given the opportunity, through creative ways of teaching- such as using technology - we can motivate learners to work toward their goals and be successful.

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    1. What an inspirational role model she is! We find in our program that having former students return and talk about their testing experiences and post-test successes (getting accepted to training programs/college or finding jobs with decent wages) is priceless for our current students. As the advisor to the program, I learned really quickly not to judg student behaviors or seeming lack of engagement. There is always a story behind it. Much like the student Pearl cited who had been stabbed, we cannot assume that our academic world is the top priority. Wouldn't it be cool to hear from some of her students?

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  25. 1-2:
    I watched several of the TED talks and took something away from all of them. I especially enjoyed the talk given by chemistry teacher, Ramsey Musallam. What caught my attention was his philosophy on the chaos of learning and how it should be embraced.
    Indeed, we all expect some organized chaos in our classrooms, but we, more often than not, try to have every moment of every day planned down to the last second. This can be particularly true in online or blended learning environments as we seed a lot of our control back to the student. However, as Ramsey pointed out, it is in the chaos that we sometimes encounter though provoking and useful questions which, in our response, give us the ability to enhance the learning experience.
    Another talk which I enjoyed was the one by Geoffrey Canada. I felt that he really nailed it when it came to addressing the problems we face in education. The lack of willingness to change, may provide comfort to those set in their ways, but it is no help to today’s students.

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    1. Hi Jason,
      It can be hard to balance the pressure to fit in large volumes of content with allowing time for creative exploration and the organized chaos when students are actively involved in learning, isn't it? The teachers who can do so are truly the masters of their craft in my eyes. As I reflect back on my learning experiences, it's the times we veered off the "chalk and talk" path that jump out. Have you found a way to cultivate that chaos in an online environment?
      Leslie

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  26. 1-6:
    I found the standards for online teaching to be quite comprehensive. As someone who is new to online teaching, I have tried to make my course as easy and intuitive to follow (that is students know what to do and when, without a lot of guesswork). I am hesitant to try too many things at one time for fear of people getting lost in the shuffle. I have found that students are responsive to the class when they can count on scheduled communications from me and quick feedback and answers to questions. I have actually printed a copy of this document and I plan to use it for my own self-assessment purposes.

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  27. After reviewing the characteristics of successful online learners, do you maintain all, none, or some of the trait
    I do believe I possess some characteristics of an online learner I have been very challenged in this new learning style. I was very used to learning in a traditional classroom setting. But I am willing to learn new ideas and technology in order to maintain a level of education in today’s society. I believe without online learning life could be very challenging for most adults. Since I have been taking online classes I feel the collaboration level in the classroom has a different connotation than a traditional face-to-face learning experience.





    Are some characteristics of successful online learners more important than others?
    Technology in the classroom is most definitely showing characteristics of successful online learners. I don’t feel in this age we lack the amount of online classes offered in colleges or universities. The flexibility colleges have offered adult learners coming back to school is amazing. They have finally taken into consideration the amount of external factors adults face in their everyday lives. With that said having the luxury of taking online courses have proven to be very successful in older adults returning back to school and staying.
    Also reviewed the TED talk by Pearl Arredondo creating a safe haven for students to learn by creating a school to hiring more effective teachers is amazing! I only wish there were more people who thought about our children's learning as she did.

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