Learning should be challenging

What did I learn this semester? I learned that I can always improve in what I am doing and that I should never settle for mediocre. Things can always be better! I have learned to keep a critical eye on my work as an educator and have learned that the tools available for learning are coming out faster than we can learn them and that keeping up with technology is a challenge in itself. I have also learned that if you can’t explain why you do what you do, then you need to sit down and really consider the reasons you do why you do them. For example, if you ask students to do warm-ups before singing, the purpose is to prepare the voice for singning! If you ask students to reflect on their learning, there should be an underlying purpose, perhaps pushing students to dig deeper into their understanding of material, and learn how to articulate what they have learned clearly.

I know that I have learned these things because I think about them a lot. Now that I know a little bit more about how people learn and how to sequence learning activities in a way that will maximize learning, I think about what I am doing in my classroom each day and try to look for ways to improve and enhance learning in my classroom.

One example of what I really learned is that it IS possible to combine F2F environments and online environments to create a very personalized and motivating learning environment. The online environment provides learning in more than one learning style and appeals to so many types of learners. The F2F environment allows students in a music class to have authentic performing experiences and a place to get to know one another. Having more than one area dedicated to learning can only enhance the student’s overall learning experience.

A second example of what I really learned is that it takes students and teachers to create teaching presence in a course. It is up to the teacher to set the students up for having interactions that really promote learning and teaching. Learning isn’t directional, in that it doesn’t come from a book and go straight into your brain, and voila! you have learned it. It takes interactions, discussions and feedback to make meaningful and deep learning experiences.

What helped my learning in this course was having such great discussions with my classmates and fantastic guiding questions from Alex. She really pushed us to perform at a high level. This was the most challenging course in my Master Degree career at UAlbany. I loved every minute of it. I think that pushing students to perform at higher levels helps them to break the plateu of what they think they are capable of. Usually they are capable of more than you think. It also helped my learning to use diigo and rate my posts. At first I thought it was painstaking and hard, especially when I spent an hour on constructing a post only to recieve a 2, but as I learned that it was more about teaching others, I began to perform better and was more motivated to teach something new and provide a cool resouce in diigo.

I don’t think there was anything that hindered my learning. Learning is what you make it. It is up to you to view challenging things as challenges rather than obstacles. It’s all in how you look at it. I felt that my learning accellerated during the course of this semester and I am happy that I am finishing my masters degree with a feeling of accomplishment.

My feelings about this course are great! I would recommend anyone interested in online course development to take the course with Alex. She makes everyone in the course feel welcome and comfortable, which is the key to being successful and having students who are motivated to working with her. I have learned that I could stand to be a little more personable with my students and our relationship outside of class will grow and this will make the learning that happens in class so much stronger. Relationships and feelings are one of the underlying keys to success in a course. If you have a teacher you like, don’t you want to work harder to please them? I know I do…and I know that I don’t really feel like working for someone who berates my feelings and is insensitive.

Thanks to Alex for a wonderful semester! The learning journey this semester has been quite challenging, but worth every second! I wouldn’t change a thing!

(4)

Letting students take the lead

After reviewing my course again and making the changes I found using the checklist and the suggestions from Alex, I think I’m in pretty good shape. I know that there are always things that I will want to tweak, but I think this is a good start. One big change I made was in my Music Journals. I added a forum for students to submit their work so others could comment on them. I also decided to require students to submit at the end of each module, rather than at the end of the entire course. I really don’t want to read all of those journals in the last week! It might be a bit much. I tried to add a journal, but apparently Moodle doesn’t do that anymore. Alex mentioned using blogmeister, but I need to check it out and play with it a bit before I am comfortable enough to ask students to use it. I also added forums for assignment submission areas so that students could look at each other’s assignments and give one another feedback about them. I think that students will really enjoy this feature and I’m looking forward to seeing how they respond to eachother.

What I have learned about myself during the creation of this course is that it is so worth the work! I can’t believe that I am actually nearing the end of this course. This has been a challenge for me, and I’m proud that I was able to make it through from start to finish…so far! There were some times during the development my course when I felt that I wasn’t sure if the direction I was taking was going to work. I discovered that if I am always looking at my course with a critical  eye and am aware of of how I am organizing information and why I am choosing to use it, my ideas about what to present in my course become more clear.

Another big challenge for me has been trying to blend the best aspects of the online environment and the F2F environment. I think that I have realized too that students can be more independent if I am willing to let them take the lead. Students can be great teachers and asking them to work together to help each other learn is an exciting thought. In the discussion board I created for my chorus, last school year, I was amazed at how quickly the students took the lead. They even started developing questions about the class, almost like mini quizes. They also learned how to speak cooperatively in a discussion, which I think boosted the morale of my F2F meeting times. Learning online is a great chance for anyone to engage in an interactive community of learning. Building relationships in learning environments both on and offline can be the key to unlocking the potential of each individual learner and appealing to more than one type of learner.

(4)

More excited and less overwhelmed

After conducting my own course review, I think I am pretty good shape overall. I spent a lot of time creating rubrics and assignment directions in the past few weeks and I think the time I spent doing it paid off. I did need to update some of my older documents in the course information area, which I did today, because they were outdated already! I had made changes in the actual module structure and changed my mind about how to grade the students from when I had originally created my document, which I think is expected. I also had to change the titles of my modules in the course documents areas and refine my learning activities so that they matched up with what the students would see in each module.I tried to make my tone more inviting and conversational. I also took some time to add a parental permission form because Alex had suggested it back in the beginning of this course. I wasn’t really sure what to say in the document at that time she suggested it, but I think that now I understand that I just need to let parents know what their child will be doing on the web and be sure that they approve of what I am asking for. I also added a portion to the permission slip for the student to sign telling me that they understand that this course is to be used for learning and that they understand that they are responsible for what they are doing online.

I had my 16 year old brother review my course using the peer review checklist and boy did he do a thorough job! He didn’t miss anything. I asked him to review the course because I wanted to make sure that he understood what he was supposed to do and in what order. I figured that if he understood, the students using certainly would! He said that he liked the composition assignment the best because he wanted to use Finale notepad. He also liked the links to the rubrics and asked me to show him how to make a rubric. It was a teachable moment. 🙂 My brother is good at spotting mistakes in spelling and grammar and finding inconsistencies in wording, so I appreciated him helping me identify where I needed to make revisions.

The next step I am working on in revising my course is making explicit directions about how to participate in assignments and discussions. I have done ok with the assignments part so far, but I think I need to be more clear about the discussions. I need to add a generic page before each discussion that details which buttons to click and add a link to the discussion rubric. I also want to add “milestones” to my course after each module that congratulate students on their work and provide them a chance to play an online game, or do something fun, almost like a reward or incentive for their work.

What I have learned about myself so far during these revisions is that I am really proud of the time I have spent thinking about and evolving my course. It was so much fun to share the course with my brother and he really enjoyed looking at it. He understood that it takes so much time to develop a site and it made me feel proud of the hours I have spent tweaking every little thing. I have also learned that I am becoming more confident in what I am asking students to do and becoming more consistent in my presentation. I am always thinking of new activities to add if I ever revamp this course. There are so many things you can do online, the limit is your imagination and the student’s techno-savviness. I am feeling less overwhelmed and more encouraged to make the course better and better!

One last thing- I feel like every discussion, article and assignment I have done in this course has really made me question why I do things the way I do. This course has helped me become more open and receptive to new ideas and ways of thinking and I believe it has strengthened my teaching ability. There is a certain amount of vulnerability that we each open ourselves to by sharing our courses with our peers. This vulnerability forces each of us to do our best work and think through the reasons why we choose to do what we do in our courses.

What I have learned and considered in this course makes me excited to go back to school in September and work with my students. I have been realizing more and more that I do have a student centered classroom, but I still need to work on improving the student to student interactions and learn to let students take more control, while still steering them in the right direction.

I’m looking forward to reviewing my classmate’s courses and getting feedback on my own! (4)


Rewarding Experience

This week has been very motivating for me as I have worked to build the learning activities in my course. I have been using diigo so much more and and I think more effectively now that I am more secure in how to use it to share resources with the class. I think I have finally figured out how to tag and annotate my bookmarks, though I’m sure I will keep improving as I use it more and more. Diigo is really a cool tool, and so helpful when searching for links to add to my course. It’s so much easier to bookmark them in Diigo and pull up the sidebar to look at what I have to work with. I used to compile web resources in my word processor, and I had to move back and forth between documents all the time. Diigo eliminates that hassle!

What I did not know before is that I would agonize over the details of creating my learning activities and want to edit them constantly. I found myself thinking about how my original plan has morphed so much over the past weeks in this course and I am beginning to understand more and more how creating teaching presence is so important. I think that I am getting the hang of it, but I am worried about how the students are going to respond to one another. I know that everything takes time, and my first experience teaching an online course will be at a par with the students taking an online course for the first time. We’ll have to learn together.

In my course, I have been applying the ideas that learning is knowledge centered, learner centered and assessment centered. As I look over my course, I think that I have addressed all of these items and hope that I can find ways to continually improve my course design to make learning better for everyone. I have provided students with resources to learn, areas to discuss and interact and assessments to gague what they have learned. I have also tried to add a few new things like “choices” and tried to add a database, but couldn’t figure out how it worked. I don’t have much experience with wiki’s but think it would be fun to use in my Tone Color Module for students to create a database of instruments and their characteristics.

In presenting myself to the class in the online environment I have been trying to use emoticons and a conversational tone to communicate to students that I am a human with a sense of humor, just like them. I want to convey to students that I am here to help and willing to provide them with feedback. I am also encouraging students to review the work of their peers and provide feedback about how they can improve. I have created assessments that use rubrics, which I can use to grade them, and I also encourage students to check out their classmate’s assignments. In presentation of content, I am intersted in finding ways to imrpove my own presentation. I reviewed the art history course today and was inspired by the dialouge presented in the content section, but wondered to myself, “how much time did this person spend creating this document?” I just have to think that the finished product that I see is a reflection of constant revision and creativity. I’m sure what I see wasn’t developed in a few weeks.

I have been realizing more and more that as a learner I am very interested in facts and how to present them in a creative way. I also realized that I enjoy challenge and hope that what I have created in my course will be challeging enough for students in 6th grade. It’s sometimes hard to remember what it was like to be a learner at this age, and hopefully the way I present knowledge is at a level that students can understand. I also know that sometimes I need to be pushed a little and feel a bit of pressure to improve my own performance. As a musician I am always preparing for performances, and always feel that the performance was a big light at the end of the tunnel of preparation. My hope is that I can transfer this to thinking about assessments as performances and pace content in an organized way to lead students to the final goal.

What I have observed about myself during the completion of the learning activities in this course is that I can tend to be impatient with the CMS. It just seems to take so long to return to areas I am working in, and I get frustrated with the speed of it all, I want it to go FASTER! I also realized that I need to give myself more time to build the activities, and come to terms with the fact that what I create I am always going to want to edit and make better! I need to remember to give myself breaks and enough time to think about activities while I am building them so I can really think them through.

From the observations of myself, I am hoping that my students will give themselves enough time to really think about the information being presented to them and be disciplined enough to pace themsleves. I think that I have broken down my activities relatively well, but there is no telling how the students are going to respond until they are in the learning environment. I realize too that I need to be flexibly firm with students and allow them extra time if they need it, but within reason.

The most challenging thing for me in this course is managing my time wisely. I find that I am spending hours and hours each day on this course alone, 5 days a week. I know everyone is doing the same! I revisted the course information documents and noticed that we are expected to spend 144-150 hours on this course, which is a lot of time, but so worth it! I am so proud of my course so far and feel that the amount of time I have spent on it has challenged me to become a better teacher and student.

The most difficult and uncomfortable thing for me in this past week was trying to work through my course with the knowledge that my 38 year old cousin died of liver cancer on Monday morning. Everyone in my family found out only a week ago that she had 3-6 weeks to live…she only lasted one week. She also has a 13 month old baby. This was one of the most shocking events of my life. I was close with her, she groomed my dogs and I talked with her often. So, needless to say, I know this is a very personal thing, that perhaps I shouldn’t share here, but it made it difficult for me to focus on developing my course. My thoughts kept getting the best of me and I had to take a few breaks to refocus. This experience has showed me that if you set your mind to something, you can get through it. Sometimes a committment, like being in online courses, or a job can help get you through a traumatic experiene.

I am a student in a Moodle course, and I am creating a course in Moodle, so being a student in this course has really helped shape the way I structure the learning activities. It is also nice to be able to think about how I want to structure something and then notice that in the course, the instructor has already decide to use a similar format. I think that I am sometimes unconsciously influenced by Alex in how she sets up the Modules. As I looked at my course today, and went back to look at the discussions in Alex’s, I noticed that I have followed a very similar structure in organizing learning activities. I also think about how much time and effort went into constantly revising and editing the ETAP course. There is so much information in there, and Alex even developed multiple Breeze presentaions and screen casts, which must take so many more hours. I am in awe of how she is able to pace herself as she is assessing us and giving us feedback. How does she have the time to make this course so awesome and still interact with her family? I am still learning so much, and this is proving to be one of the most rewarding educational experiences I have ever encountered.

BTW Alex- Thanks for sharing the personal pics in your blog. It’s so nice to be able to see you with your family, friends and doggies! You certainly know how to enhance your presence in this course.

Thanks for reading! 🙂

-Aubrey (4)

Reorganizing my course.

Alex’s breeze presentation tied directly with “A Follow Up in the Investigation of Teaching Presence” the article she developed with P. Shea. I noticed that there were many recurrent themes, which I thought lent itself to being redundant, which Alex says is a good thing in the Online learning environment. I would agree. Not only did she present this info as a breeze slide show, which appeals to the visual learning style, she also tied it to auditory. Re-reading a lot of what she said in the Breeze presentation in the article reiterated important themes. I think the part of the breeze presentation that impacted me the most was the idea that teaching presence is knowledge centered, learner centered and assessment centered. I am really trying to re-organize my learning activities by renaming them and making them more kid friendly. I am also trying to focus on how I am going to assess student learning in each of the modules. I am toying with the thought to switching the placement of 2 of my modules, the first and the second, to make them flow a little better and allow students to get into content that will serve as a review for them for the most part while they are learning the new course management system. 

I took a look at the courses for observation again and looked at a virtual field trip of an art gallery that really looked neat. I was thinking that a virtual field trip would tie in perfectly with my composers and time periods module. It would be really neat to allow students to get a glimpse of Vienna or NYC without actually traveling there. 

The most difficult part for me this week is trying to keep the online and offline activities separated making sure that the activities I choose are going to be the best fit for the learning environment. This hybrid learning business is much harder than I was thinking. Sometimes I start to think about the possibilities of what I could do and I overwhelm myself thinking about how to make it work in the online environment and how much writing it will be. I need to tell myself to take a step back and look at the big picture to get a better sense of what is important with regard to big ideas, and back off a little on the details. 

What is working is using a new organizer for managing my learning activities in MS word. In the manual Alex said that drafting out the learning activities would be a paper and pencil activity, but I think this is working ok for me. I made a table that outlines each module and lists both on and offline activities and allows me to look at them next to one another. I am hoping that this is going to be an easier way for me to reorganize everything and find the logical patterns of how to present knowledge that is learner centered, develop community spirit and then assess the knowledge. Like I said before, the assessment part is the difficult thing for me, but I am working on it. The manual gives some neat ideas for activities and assessments which I am going to consider using in each module. I just still really have to think about what I am doing a little more and play with some things. (4)

 

Rolling along and building away!

What I learned that I did not know before was that it is possible for authors to come into the discussion and offer insight into an article they wrote. I found Bill Pelz’s presence in the course to be extremely cool! I couldn’t believe it when I checked my e-mail and found a response from him! This pairs nicely with Alex’s suggestion for me to invite a young composer into my course during the composer’s unit. I think that this suggestion to add a place where students could talk with a person who actually composes music would be wonderful, however finding out how to contact the person seems challenging to me and I wonder if there is some way to screen these people before allowing them to interact with children in 6th grade. I didn’t add this activity to my module on composers, but I think that the possibility to does exist. In fact, now that I think of it, there is a local artist Jared Campbell who went to Vestal Central Schools, where I teach who comes back into school each year to do a performance for kids. It would be really neat to ask students to watch one of his performances F2F, and ask him to come to class and talk with the kids about his life choices. I think this would be a wonderful “blended learning” opportunity for students to be able to get into a real live discussion with a famous artist, who is also a composer.

A few decisions I have made for my course are adding group work activities, as well as individual activities. I have also chosen to use assessments that are more project based rather than quizzes or tests. I have always found that I have produced my best work in areas that allow me to apply the content I have learned to a real life situation. This may be why I always did better in art and music classes which allowed me to create unique expressions of ideas. Multiple choice tests have always been a source of anxiety for me and I don’t want to put that kind of pressure on a 6th grade student. I could never choose the best answer because I would always second guess it and think that it was a trick question. I would spend 10 minutes thinking about the possibilities of the answers for one question and never feel confident with my answer…I suppose we all have our own preferred learning styles. I’m going to do my best to appeal to all of them!

During the creation of these learning activities I found that I had already thought through many of my activities but found myself pondering the subtle differences between a web-enhanced course and a hybrid-learning environment were. I am realizing that adding F2F components that allow students to interact in the classroom can allow them to get a better idea that the people they interact with on the Internet are real people, from their class and not just machines. I still am exploring how to create an environment that will be able to best utilize elements of being in a F2F class and blend these elements with the content presented in the course. One of my main goals is to allow my online course to do most of the teaching to keep class time free for students to interact with one another, discuss ideas they also discuss in their online discussions and give me time to be more of a “guide on the side” rather than a “sage on the stage”. Finding that balance is something I think I am going to learn more about when I am using the course to teach actual students.

Regarding interaction in the course, I am going to ask students to discuss ideas using prompts, work in collaborative groups and complete learning journals. I am hoping to use F2F time reflect on discussions and perhaps use some scaffolding to get into deeper understanding of content.  Rather than having the students interact with me most of the time, I would like to get them working with one another, teaching each other new things and sharing ideas about their learning. I think that another way F2F class time will best be utilized is for interaction with teaching students how to use the software they will use when they are creating their projects. Such programs include Finale Note Pad, PowerPoint, Inspiration and Microsoft Word. Using class time for teaching students the mechanics of each of these programs, and allowing them time to practice using them with me available for questions and troubleshooting seems a good way to utilize F2F time. I would also like to give students a chance to share ideas from their learning journals with the class, if they choose to do so, and use some of the time for teachable-moments and discussion. Additionally, asking students to have a discussion about how to do group work and doing a sample “Jigsaw” F2F might help them better understand how it can work in the online environment too.

The most difficult part of this module for me was trying to figure out if my module structure was going to work. I know the general rule is 7 modules plus or minus 2, and I ended up with 4- five week modules, an icebreaker and a course wrap up. This left me with 6 modules, which I wasn’t sure fit into the best practices equation of 7 plus or minus 2.  I spoke with Alex and she basically told me that what my plan was looked ok. I’m sure that as I get into actually teaching this course that I will refine the content, and evolve as I become more comfortable using Moodle as a teaching tool, and learn what is going to work. My hope is that I will constantly evolve in my own thinking about how to utilize the best aspects of hybrid-learning.

I don’t really feel like I am resistant to anything at this point. I am understanding more and more that creating a course takes a lot of time, thought and energy. I find that I am thinking about this course all the time and constantly trying to reevaluate if what I am choosing to do in my course is the best choice for the students. I want them to feel comfortable and really get a feeling that their learning is fun and not work.

What is working for me? Well, I really enjoy the set-up and ease of use in Moodle. I think that having used Blackboard to create a course before has made it easier for me to understand how the system works. The build-it presentations by Alex are also really nice to watch because in the beginning (Modules 1 and 2) I found myself trying to figure out how to build pages on my own, only to find that I should have built a web-page rather than a text page. I am also really enjoying how Alex asks us to set-up modules and course information in a Word document and then to transfer the information to Moodle. This is good because if all information is lost due to some unforeseen circumstance, we still have the information we need stored on our hard drives. It is also nice how she has sequenced the way we build the course in that it allows us to think through each of the steps of evaluation, learning activities and objectives and make it easier to move to the next step of actually structuring the learning activities in modules. She “chunked” the sequences of how to build a course nicely, and that is probably why she is a leading technology and online learning professor! She is very understanding and makes her presence in the course known in a non-threatening way, which I think is amazing and challenging.

The only thing I would change about Moodle is the way the editing tools in moving objects and adding new documents works. It is very frustrating to be brought back to the top of a page each time a change is made. It takes so much time to scroll back down to where you were working just to move the placement of a document. I suppose this could be remedied by outlining everything I wanted to add first and making sure I build in a deliberate way, however when I am adding information in the 5th, 6th, 7th frames, I have to scroll all the way back down. This is a little thing…so I won’t sweat the small stuff. Overall, I really like how this course is panning out and I’m enjoying working on my course. I have a lot to learn and I’m loving every minute of it. (4)

There is not enough time in a day…

This course is proving to be quite a challenge to me. I have spent most of my time setting up my course shell and previewing the exemplary courses provided in module 2. Looking at the work provided by masters in online learning, I am feeling a bit humbled. The courses are very well developed and provide opportunities for students to interact with the instructor, work on individual skills and interact with each other. One thing I am learning that I hadn’t considered is how to construct questions that will provoke thoughtful and inspiring discussions. While I was looking at the questions for discussions in the exemplary courses and previewing Alex’s breeze presentation, I got thinking about a workshop I took a few years back called QUILT or Questioning for Understanding in Learning and Teaching. This workshop taught me how to develop deep questions using Bloom’s taxonomy that would get students to produce answers at the instructor’s desired level. Here is a link to more information about the QUILT model, if you are interested: http://www.ed.gov/pubs/triedandtrue/quest.html

In addition to learning about how to construct educative questions to inspire thoughtful discussions with my students I am also learning about blended learning environments. I didn’t realize that creating a course that was partially delivered online and partially delivered in the classroom was an option. After interacting in the discussions, I had a chance to investigate blended learning and found that it will likely be a nice fit with the course I am developing for 6th grade students. I also found when searching for music education courses for elementary students that there is really no model to follow. I feel like I am forging a new path in integrating technology into the music curriculum for elementary students.

In developing my own online course I found that I had to keep in mind the kind of language I use with 6th grade students. I need to make sure that what I am writing is on a level that 6th graders can understand. Having worked with 6th graders for 4 years, I have a general idea about the questions they will have about the wording of my documents, and I tried to adjust accordingly from my drafts.

I also have a better understanding of why it is important to use statements that are personal such as “You will learn…”. The Scorza article clarified for me the need to make students understand that the people interacting in an online environment are living and feeling human beings and the way the course is set up should be conducive to making students feel welcome and engaged with the instructor and with eachother. It is up to the instructor to provide an environment that mimics the personalities present in a F2F classroom.

For my self-observation during the completion of learning activities in this module, I felt myself feeling a bit overwhelmed with the amount of time spent constructing the course in Moodle and finding time to complete the course reviews and the readings. I feel that I have sacrificed doing my personal best in discussions partially because 1) I am taking another class, 2) I am working and wrapping up the school year and 3) the time it takes me to contribute a solid discussion post is almost an hour. I feel like I am making choices between spending time on developing my course and completing the readings or developing good discussion posts. In this course I am really understanding the saying “there just isn’t enough time in one day!”
I think that if I were make one suggestion for a better experience for me personally, it would be to change the interaction in the discussions to make them a little less “heavy”. By heavy I mean that the discussions are great and rating each post is good for helping students to understand what a quality post entails, but I am finding that I am working so hard to create a 4 point post, that I am loosing time in developing my course, and loosing time for reading. If the discussions were a bit less “heavy” and were more laid back and conversational, rather than extensively deep, I would feel a bit more relaxed. Part of my anxiety with discussions may be due to the fact that I am not used to so much self and peer evaluation and I am finding it difficult to adjust to this. Also, the way the discussions are displayed in Moodle makes it challenging to find your own posts and track the conversations you are having with others. It is a bit frustrating to me, but as with anything, I’m sure I can get used to it and become more skilled in completing discussions this way over time.

Overall, I am really enjoying this course and am learning a lot, including a new respect for online instructors. The sheer amount of time spent constructing the learning environment is amazing to me and I had no idea how much time and thought went into the process.  I appreciate all of the help I am getting from my classmates and from Alex. Thanks for learning with me! 🙂

(4)

A Whirlwind of Activity

This first module has been a bit of a whirlwind. I feel like there are so many new aspects of this course to learn including diigo, twitter and moodle. Diigo is a really neat tool that I wish I had in all of my other online courses. Not only does it allow you to highlight, bookmark, and make notes, you can share web site with classmates! I’m not sure I really know how to use twitter yet, but I’m sure time will help!

The course readings were very inspiring. I feel that those who aren’t familiar with the online format of taking courses should read these articles to get a better understanding of what they entail. I think that the average person doesn’t realize how much reading, writing and deep thinking is involved in the online learning environment. As mentioned in the Kassop article, Internet learning actually may surpass the traditional F2F environment in that it allows users to develop better writing skills and really allows students to elicit deep thinking about the subject materials at hand. I personally believe that as I have progressed through the CDIT program that I have really honed my writing abilities and am more careful and articulate about what I write any time I respond to written prompts be they assignments or discussions. I have also noticed that most of my online classmates are great writers, and very good at conveying their ideas with text. I feel that the discussions in this course are very challenging because they force everyone to rate themselves and their peers in every post, which I have never done before. I’m sure that as the semester progresses that I’ll be able to speed up my response times and the rating system will become second nature. 

In the discussions for this module I was able to think about how I was going to create a course in moodle, who my target audience was going to be and the best way to take learning in the traditional classroom setting to the e-learning world! I originally thought I would like to try to recreate a performance realm (like chorus)…but discovered that it might not be best suited to online learning. Steven and Alex told me about realtime applications, like Secondlife, that I could use to simulate a choir experience, but the information I found regarding this subject was skeptical. I decided to regroup and think about how I could create a different kind of learning environment. I must admit that it took some hard thinking in deciding what I would carry into my course from what I currently teach. Interestingly enough, I recently found out that I will be teaching 6th grade general music next year, which I haven’t taught in 2 years. I was actually pretty excited because there were aspects of this course that I wanted to revamp after teaching it for 2 years…now I have the chance to do so in my online course! I am going to create a course that is geared toward upper elementary students, and most likely use it with 6th grade students next year. 

The video: Did you know? that we watched in this module mentioned Alan November, which I was really excited about because I had the chance to see him speak last year at a Superintendent’s Conference Day. He came and presented much of the information that was contained in that video. I am so surprised that the number one language in China might soon be English! This fact is mind blowing when considering how large that country is. I was also struck with the fact that there are more honors students in China than there are students in the U.S. How’s that for being competitive in the global market? 

Overall, I have felt a bit scattered and at times trying to keep up with all of the activities in Module 1, but I am certain that as I learn more about how to use the new tools in this course that I will feel much more relaxed. Thanks for all the help everyone has been giving in learning thus far! 🙂

-Aubrey

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learning new interfaces

Well, I managed to finally figure out that my confirmation e-mail to set up my blog was hidden in the spam folder of my e-mail program. I was wondering why it was taking so long! Anyhow, I am really excited about learning about web-design and building an online course, but I have to admit that I am a little intimidated about all of the nuances associated with it. I’m sure that my classmates and the professor will be very helpful. I have a lot to learn!