My 2015 9x9x25 Reflection

 How Each Blog Idea Became a Blog
&
One Thing I Learned From Each Blog

The third year of this challenge is over, and I must admit that it was a challenge, not the writing part but thinking about what to write. So for this year’s reflection, in one sentence, I will explain how each blog’s idea became a blog, and in one sentence, I will explain one thing I learned from writing each blog.


 The Only Online Learning Tool Needed:
Writing, Writing and Writing

The idea for this blog was easy because I had this idea since the 9x9x25 challenge last year.

The one thing I learned from writing this blog is that since writing is the main way of online communication, as teachers, we should keep ‘writing, writing and writing’ as the main learning tool in our online courses.


 What can Faculty and Colleges do
About the Outrageous Costs of Textbooks

The idea for this blog came up during a phone call I had with another faculty from another college.

The one thing I learned from writing this blog is that there are colleges out there making the costs of textbooks cheaper for students and that there are many great non-textbook alternatives.


 No, Multitasking Does NOT Take Away
From Having a Productive Conference Call Meeting

The idea for this blog came up when I was sitting at home in a conference call meeting.

The one thing I learned from writing this blog is that from my research I’m not alone in believing one can multitask during a conference call meeting and still have a productive conference call meeting.


 The Professional way for a Student to Email Their Teacher

The idea for this blog has always been something I wanted to put in my courses’ syllabi.

The one thing I learned from the replies I received to my blog is that there are other professionals who agree that students should learn how to write a professional email, and, now, I have the link to put in my courses’ syllabi so my students will know how to email me.


 Faculty Interview:
Flipped Classroom Model vs. Traditional Classroom Model

This idea for this blog came up after I had a few conversations about the flipped classroom model with a few colleagues.

The one thing I learned from this blog’s survey, which is the blog itself, is that for at least one faculty the flipped classroom is more beneficial for the teacher and the student than the traditional classroom model.


 My 3 Mistakes I had to Fix
When I Made an Onsite Course an Online Course

This idea for this blog has always been a thought because learning from mistakes in general at a teacher has been a 15 year plus process.

The one thing I learned from writing this blog is that I will probably have three more mistakes to write about in another 15 years 🙂


 I just wanted to thank you for not giving up on me.
(3 Examples of why I do not Give up on my Students)

This idea for this blog always comes up around this time of the semester because the last 9x9x25 blog is close to the semester’s end when I start getting emails from students asking for help.

The one thing I learned writing this blog is that my empathy for my students extends from my personal experiences with the emphatic college teachers I’ve had in the past, and this empathy for my students has not wavered because I have a daughter and wife in college, which allows me to see and feel the students’ perspective.

Click here for all my posts on the webletter!

I just wanted to thank you for not giving up on me. (3 Examples of why I do not Give up on my Students)

The title, “I just wanted to thank you for not giving up on me.,” is a sentence straight from a student’s email to me. Here’s the email in its entirety:

download (7)

As you can see, this student’s email would make any teacher feel great, and I made sure I told the student how great it made me feel. Here’s part of my reply:

         

For me, the student’s email literally made my day, and it is very powerful because it’s what my entire teaching career is centered around: Don’t give up on my students so my students do not give up themselves. I mean, I’m all about my students learning the subjects I teach – that’s my job, but what’s not my job, technically, is not giving up on my students. But why would I not want to make this an equal part of my job too. Yes, it makes my job harder not to give up on my students, and I was just talking about this with someone the other day. They bluntly said, “Why do I make my job harder?” – giving myself more work in order to help students individually; my response was something to the effect of: what’s more powerful and more lasting than letting students know there are people in this world who will not give up on them? I mean, just read how powerful not giving up on a student really is. Here’s part of the above email to highlight this power. The student states:


As you can see, this student was refreshed, was helped, and was encouraged. So just think, if I wasn’t encouraging, didn’t help, didn’t make this student feel refreshed, it could have made this student give up, quit, and just not finish my course, but why wouldn’t I want this student to finish something the student and I started together, as a team. I mean, when a student signs up for my class, we are in it together; we are a team, and I’m going to make sure the student gets through it.

So why do I try to understand and empathize with my students? Because it is as my student’s email states, “[I do] understand (or remember) that college life can be very stressful and demanding,” and I continue to understand and remember because currently my oldest daughter and my wife are both in college. So I clearly see and feel the students’ perceptive, keeping me in the complete context of where my course actually fits into my students’ lives.

I will explain each one of these individually.

Example 1
My Personal Experience
Makes me Understand and Empathize With my Students

There are many personal experiences that have allowed me to understand and empathize with my students. But if I had to pick one, the most significant one is when I was in college, years ago. I remember missing an assignment and feeling hesitate to even ask my teacher if could I make up the assignment, but I asked. And like most of my students do, I started off with why I missed it, and after I finished with why, with no hesitation, my teacher said, “Yes, of course.” It was like he didn’t even hear my reason or cared if I was telling the truth or not. So I remember asking, “Do you believe me.” And I will never forget his reply, “Yes.” And through sort of a lengthy conversation he explained why. He explained that he would rather give every student the benefit of the doubt than mistakenly punish that one student who was telling the truth. In other words, he was not the judge and the jury. He just basically said “yes” to every student regardless of their reason. And because of how his response and explanation made me feel that day – that he was on my side, I continue this same approach with my students, hopefully giving my students the same feeling I had that day, feeling someone is on their side.

Example 2
My Daughter’s Experience
Makes me Understand and Empathize With my Students

Just last year, my oldest daughter accidently missed a college assignment because she got confused on when it was due. It was that simple of a mistake. But what is heartfelt is that she put all her heart and soul into doing her best all semester, and she was now going to get penalized for a honest mistake, and technically, a mistake that doesn’t test her on academic knowledge, but that’s for another blog. She was so disappointed that she cried tears of complete frustration. The cry of when you try so hard but make a simple mistake that just cancels out all your hard work. I remember encouraging her to contact her teacher and tell her teacher exactly what happened, and taking my advice she did. Her teacher let her make up the assignment. But this would not always be the case for all teachers. Some teachers would not have let her make up the assignment. And that’s fine. All teachers differ. But for me, this experience keeps my understanding of the students’ perceptive, where students make simple mistakes, honest mistakes. So when a student asks me to make up an assignment for whatever reason, I let them because that one student is a person with feelings like my oldest daughter.

Example 3
My Wife’s Experience
Makes me Understand and Empathize With my Students

Just yesterday, my wife was studying for a major exam at Yavapai College’s library, and she called me to let me know she was feeling extremely sick. Long story short, I was on campus, so I went to the library, and she was sick. So I encouraged her to get something to eat, thinking maybe that might make her feel better. We went and ate, got back to campus, and she was still feeling sick. So I encouraged her to lie down in the car and just rest for a little while. But she only had 2 more hours to study until the exam, so she said she couldn’t – she has to study. But she was too sick to study. So I suggested that she call the teacher and let the teacher know what was going on. And without hesitation, she said, “No” – she couldn’t do that. And I must admit, I agreed, not because the teacher wouldn’t understand – the teacher would have, but because for some reason there’s this communication block in the college climate where students do not feel that they can communicate with their teacher, even when telling the truth. Now, I can’t change this climate, but what I can do is make sure my students never feel that they cannot communicate with me as their teacher. So for my classes, I open the line of communication from the start, building a climate of communication between me and my students. Here’s the first communication I have with my students when they sign up for my course:


And hopefully, this initial type of contact that lets my students know they can communicate with me, and that I will not judge them, will allow my students to feel free to ask me for help when they need help.

My 3 Mistakes I had to Fix When I Made an Onsite Course an Online Course

When I first made an onsite course an online course, I naively tried to teach my online course the same way as an onsite course. I presented PowerPoint presentations as if my online course was an onsite course; I tried to be involved in the online discussions as if my online course was an onsite course; and I uploaded traditional onsite types of quizzes as if my online course was an onsite course.

Mistake 1
I Presented PowerPoint Presentations as if my Online Course was an Onsite Course
This first mistake I made was presenting the onsite tool of PowerPoint presentations in my online class. In short, very few students clicked on my PowerPoint presentations, and the few who did, I didn’t even know if they watched them. Now, could I have made quiz questions from my PowerPoint presentations to force students to prove to me they clicked on my PowerPoint presentations and viewed them? Of course, but instead, I took a step back and wondered – why? Why didn’t my students click on my PowerPoint presentations? Why – because, in short, a PowerPoint is an onsite teaching tool not an online course teaching tool. That’s just the bottom-line. And this is why: In an onsite course, a PowerPoint presentation is to guide a lecture that makes sense of a textbook chapter that is being covered. At least that’s what I do. I use a PowerPoint to guide my lecture about a textbook chapter, and then I assess my students with a quiz about the PowerPoint lecture. But in an online course, if my PowerPoints are just simply a guide for my lecture about the textbook chapter, why would an online student view my PowerPoint presentations if the student only needs to read the chapter to learn the same information and be quizzed on the same information?

Fixing Mistake 1
So What did I do?
I fixed this mistake by getting rid of my PowerPoint presentations in many of my online courses. So, now, instead of guiding the students through the textbook chapter with my PowerPoint presentations and then quizzing them to assess if they know the information, I guide the students through textbook guided quizzes, which I explain in my subsection, Mistake 3.

Mistake 2
I Tried to be Involved in the Online Discussions as if my Online Course was an Onsite Course
The second mistake I made was thinking that I could be the center of attention in my online course discussions, thinking I was the expert, the soul source that all my students wanted to learn from, but man, was my ‘teacher-ego’ put in check when I started to slowly learn that no one cared what I had to say. In short, the students didn’t even click on my replies, in the online discussions, to even see what I had to say – ouch.
So like the PowerPoint presentation example, could I have made quiz questions from my replies to force students to prove to me they clicked on my replies and viewed them? Of course, but instead, I took a step back and wondered – why? Why didn’t my students click on my replies? Why – because of two reasons: One, everyone was doing just fine learning from each other without me – again, ouch, and two, the online discussions are just too cumbersome. For me to be part of every online discussion would be like my trying to be part of every onsite discussion with 50 students who were randomly having individual group discussions about the assignment topic. I would have to bounce around to each individual group, know each group’s specific discussion from the start to the finish to really give any worthy feedback to the group.

Fixing Mistake 2
So What did I do?
After the ‘teacher-ego’ healed a little, I fixed this mistake by learning that I must be doing something right if the students didn’t need me. I learned that good online discussion assignments, where students did not need me, guided the students to learn from each other. By learning this, I stopped participating in online discussion assignments. Rather, I just make sure that I assign good online discussion assignments where students learn from each other. My only participation, now, is that at the end of the online discussion assignments, I just simply give my feedback to each student individually based on his/her part of the discussion.
Here’s an example from my TCC’s HLT 116: Introduction to Personal Wellness Concepts course of a good solid online discussion assignment that allows students to learn from each other:

download (1)

Mistake 3
I Uploaded Traditional Onsite Types of Quizzes
as if my Online Course was an Onsite Course
The third mistake I made was uploading traditional onsite types of quizzes into my online course. These types of traditional onsite quizzes are designed to prove students learned from their teacher’s onsite PowerPoint lectures and from their teacher’s input within the onsite class discussion. But, as I said, for my online courses, no one even clicked on my PowerPoint presentations and no one even clicked on my discussion assignment replies. So I took a step back and wondered – how do my quizzes prove that my students learned from my online PowerPoint presentations or from my online discussion assignments’ replies? Well, with evidence that my students did not even click on my PowerPoint presentations nor on my online discussion assignments’ replies, I had to admit that my students were not learning from these learning tools nor were my students being accessed based on these learning tools.

Fixing Mistake 3
So What did I do?

I fixed this mistake by putting the PowerPoint information into guided quizzes. So instead of naively thinking I was guiding my online students through my PowerPoint presentations so they could learn the chapter and then quizzing them on the chapter, I now guide my students through textbook chapter quizzes to make sure they are learning the information. Here’s the syllabus explanation from my PHE 151 – Introduction to Exercise Science and Physical Education course about these types of quizzes that I give my students to explain how these types of quizzes are learning tools that reinforce students’ learning versus traditional types of quizzes that assess students’ learning:

download (2)

And here’s an example from my YC’s PHE 151 – Introduction to Exercise Science and Physical Education course of a textbook quiz question that replaces the PowerPoints:

download (3)

In addition, in case you are wondering, the above answer is:
“Students leaning to use a computer, motor behavior, physical activity”
As you can see, I repeated the first answer, “Students learning to use a computer,” three times and the last answer, “physical activity,” three times, which I believe is a learning ‘tactic’ that reinforces learning, but that’s for another blog. 🙂

Faculty Interview: Flipped Classroom Model vs. Traditional Classroom Model

Original post can be found here.

1. How long have you been teaching college courses?

“17 years”


2. What college courses do you teach?
“English”


3. How long have you been using the flipped classroom model?
“Ever since I began teaching, without knowing it was a teaching model.”


4. What are examples of any positive student feedback (formal or informal) about your flipped classroom model?
“Students say they like the flipped teaching model because they can ask questions while working.”


5. What are examples of any negative student feedback (formal or informal) about your flipped classroom model?
“None.”


6. Comparing your flipped classrooms with your traditional classrooms, does the flipped classroom model make your job as a teacher easier?
“I have fewer comments to make on assignments.”


7. Comparing your flipped classrooms with your traditional classrooms, does the flipped classroom model make your job as a teacher harder?
“No.”


8. Comparing your flipped classrooms with your traditional classrooms, do you believe your students benefit more from the flipped classroom model?
“Yes, immediate feedback reinforces learning objectives.”


9. Comparing your flipped classrooms with your traditional classrooms, do you notice a better classroom atmosphere in your flipped classrooms?
“Yes, students are usually busy the entire period, working on the assignment.”


10. Comparing your flipped classrooms with your traditional classrooms, do you see a better attitude in students towards doing course work in your flipped classrooms?
“Yes, they seem to be more confident.”


11. Comparing your flipped classrooms with your traditional classrooms, do you see a difference with assignment completion, better grades, etc. in your flipped classrooms?
“Yes, completing assignments on time and better grades are results of the flipped teaching model.”


12. Do you have any recommendations for college teachers who are thinking about using the flipped classroom model, who are new with using the flipped classroom model or even recommendations for college teachers who have been using the flipped classroom model for a while – like tricks of the trade that you may want to share?
“Instructors may want to walk around the class checking work to make sure students who do not ask questions are dong the assignment correctly.”


13. Are there any other comments or suggestions you would like to add?
“If students are on computers, it is a good idea to check to see that they are working on the class assignment and not on another assignment or in a social media site. Students earn points for class participation, which encourages them to work on the class assignment.”

The Professional way for a Student to Email Their Teacher

As faculty at two colleges, with over a 100 plus online students each semester, I must say – email is a daily job duty for me. I’ve seen all types of student emails – the good, the bad and the confusing. So for the sake of teacher student communication, I want to share the professional way for a student to email his or her teacher.

1. Use Your College Email
For your own privacy, it’s best to use your college email. For my courses, if a student does not use their college email, the only thing I do is reply:
“To protect your privacy, please, use your college email.”

2. Make the Subject Line Short and to the Point
The subject line of the email should tell the recipient the exact content of the email. So you want the subject line to be short and to the point. For my courses, I have a standard that is stated in my syllabus that says students must put their last name and the subject of the course – that’s it. Here’s an example:
Johnson PHE 252
But if you are not emailing your teacher about the course you are in, were in or want to be in, make sure the subject line is short and to the point – nothing fancy. Fancy is not professional.

3. Use a Professional Salutation
It’s just a good habit to always address your teacher professionally since you probably do not know your teacher outside your class, and if you do, it’s still probably not a relationship where you two are pals.
To address your teacher, you put ‘Dear’ then your teacher’s title (Mr., Mrs., Ms., Dr., or even Professor) then the teacher’s last name, followed by a colon. Here are two examples:
Dear Mr. Lohman:
Or
Dear Professor Lohman:

4. Make the Email Content Clear and to the Point
The content of the email is the most important part of the email. And as a student, you must remember that your teacher has a lot of student emails and many other types of emails to read daily. So as a student, you want the email content to be clear and to the point – no fluff. Fluff is not professional.
After the salutation, skip a space and write the first sentence. This first sentence should be what the entire email is all about. For example, if your email is about how you don’t believe you deserve a specific assignment grade then your first sentence should be:
“I do not believe I deserve a C on Assignment I”
– nothing more.
Next, in about 5 short, to the point sentences, defend your first sentence clearly. In other words, avoid any type of fluff that may have the teacher just glaze over your email, missing your defense of why you don’t deserve a C. Again, a teacher has many emails to read, and your email may be number 30 after 30 minutes of the teacher reading emails. So be clear and to the point.

5. Make the Email Content Respectful
As the saying goes,
“You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar.”
Teachers are only human. So if you are rude, some teachers’ “help buttons” naturally turn off, and if you are threatening, some teachers will even take your threat as a challenge. Again, and extremely important to understand, teachers are only human.

6. Use Proper Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation
For some teachers, when a student’s email has spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, it shows a lack of professionalism and some teachers take it as disrespectful. And believe it or not, for many teachers, emails in all capitals, all lower case letters, or in SMS language, looks like a foreign language to them. So do not use all capitals, all lower case letters, or SMS language, and make sure you use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

7. Use the Correct Form of Closing
As with the salutation, it’s just a good habit to always use a professional closing to your teacher. Again, you probably do not know your teacher outside your class, and if you do, it’s still probably not a relationship where you two are pals. This is important to understand. Here are three examples of professional closings:
Sincerely,
Or
Respectfully,
Or
Your student,

8. Proofread Your Email

Proofread your email, reading it out loud word by word, even pointing to each word as you read.

9. Send Your Email and Double Check
That Your Email was Sent
Before you send your email, make sure you are sending it to the correct recipient. And after you send your email, always double check that your email was sent by going into the sent email box.

10. When Your Teacher Replies, Reply Back Immediately
For replies, the rule of thumb is to reply back within 24 hours, but the sooner the better. If the email you sent to your teacher is important then treat it importantly, and check your email often to see if the teacher replied back, so you can reply back as soon as possible. A quicker reply shows that the issue your email addresses is important to you. And, of course, like your original email, make sure your reply email is also professional.

Professional Student Email Template
Dear Professor Last Name:
Email Content
Your student,
Full Name

No, Multitasking Does NOT Take Away From Having a Productive Conference Call Meeting

Right now, I’m sitting in a meeting. Well, I’m at home sitting in a meeting. I called a number, so I can communicate with those at the meeting and with those on the phone at the meeting. I logged into a website to see the presentations those at the meeting are sharing, and it’s basically that’s simple.

Multitasking.28442521_stdAs I’m sitting in this meeting, I started wondering if multitasking really takes away from having a productive meeting. And as I multitask right now, writing this 9x9x25 blog post and participating in this meeting at the same time, I must say, with complete confidence, “No.” No, multitasking does not take away from having a productive conference call meeting.

But for now, I will stop multitasking, and I will minimize this screen so I can continue with the meeting. Or will I 🙂

  1. I’m back. Or did I ever leave 🙂

Now, I know the research that says multitasking does not work. But I don’t know. I think I might have to disagree. Of course, I believe true multitasking does not work, where the brain is thinking of two things at the same time.

 

 

Why the Human Brain Can’t Multitask

This is most likely true. But I’m referring to multitasking in the sense of doing one thing while doing another thing, such as writing part of this 9x9x25 blog post while in a meeting. So this is the type of multitasking to which I’m referring. And Catriona Balfour in her blog for loopup.com supports this type of multitasking by explaining how to properly multitask in a conference call type of meeting:

“Try to steer clear of longer tasks that require mental immersion or extensive creative thinking or problem-solving skills.  These activities will draw your attention too far away from the call, and the likelihood is that both the call and your side-activity will suffer as a result. Instead, try to stick to shorter tasks you can drop in and out of, such as light email maintenance” (Balfour, 2014).

As can be seen, multitasking is successfully possible when the activities are not too involved. And I agree with her assertion because I can literally do it, and mostly likely, most people can too.

Now, for the skeptics, who wonder that there’s just no way that I’m fully engaged in a conference call type of meeting while multitasking. Well, it’s just not true. I’m fully in engaged in my part of the meeting. And I want to emphasis “my part of the meeting” because it is how many of these types of conference call meetings are set up. Steve Flavell in his blog for loopup.com explains how these meetings are set up that allows plenty of time to multitask:

“An important factor to consider here is the peripheral nature of many people’s roles on everyday conference calls – perhaps to give a 2-minute update, address any specific questions that may crop up, or keep in check that a given project is on track. Such peripheral roles are the norm, not the exception” (Flavell, 2013).

This leads him to claim,

“The reality is that many people, on many everyday conference calls, legitimately have plenty of time to multi-task . . .” (Flavell, 2013).

And I have to agree with Steve Flavell, 100%. In my experience with conference call meetings, I have plenty of time to multitask because the norms of the meetings are exactly what he described. I give my update; I address specific questions that are directed to me; and when something important comes up to discuss, I always chime in. I’m fully engaged.

And lastly, before I get dogged for being honest about multitasking in conference call meetings, know that the majority of those in conference call meetings do the same thing. As Catriona Balfour explains in her blog forloopup.com:

“… multitasking on calls is commonplace: according to a recent Meeting Behavior Survey (SurveyMonkey, 2013), 92% of information workers admit to multitasking during meetings, and 41% of respondents say they do it often or all of the time”(Balfour, 2014).

That’s right, that percentage is 92%. Ninety two percent of people multitask during conference call meetings. So, as Forest Gump says,

That’s All I Have To Say About That – Forrest Gump Quote

“That’s all I have to say about that.”

References

Balfour, C. (January 24, 2014). Multitasking on conference calls: Agree with it or not, here’s how. Access from http://loopup.com/blog/communicating-effectively/multitasking-conference-calls-agree-heres/

 

What can Faculty and Colleges do About the Outrageous Costs of Textbooks

CollegeBoard.com estimates for the 2014-2015 academic year a full-time college student in the United States spends approximately $1,200 for their college textbooks and other supplies.

cp-2014-figures-01
But who needs a specific graph to know that textbooks and other supplies are expensive. To know textbooks are expensive, all you need is to have one child in college, have taken a college course or two in the last year or so, or be faculty who knows the cost of your own courses’ textbooks.
So the question is: what can faculty and colleges do about the outrageous costs of textbooks?

Things Faculty can do

One thing that can be done to lower the cost of expensive textbooks is that faculty can become creative. For example, as faculty of two colleges, I make some courses textbook free. For one course at Yavapai College (YC), I use scholarly articles instead of a textbook. I know the subject and the course objectives, so this is easy – time consuming, but easy. For another course at YC, I use my own personal website instead of a textbook. Again, I know the subject and the course objectives, so this easy – time consuming, but easy. And lastly where the college makes me use a textbook or for courses where I haven’t made the course textbook free, I make sure the students have more than one choice for a textbook. For example, in one course at Tidewater Community College (TCC), I allow three different types of the same textbook. Here’s part of the syllabus about the three different types of textbooks.

download

And why I had to use the names Textbook 1 and Textbook 2, which are both a second edition and Textbook Edition 4 is another story in itself. But the point is, as faculty, why should I make a student buy the latest edition if it’s more expensive or buy the college bookstore’s textbook if it’s also more expensive, especially if only the page numbers seem to be the only thing that have changed from textbook to textbook. And believe me; I have textbooks where it seems only the page numbers have changed. Here’s part of the instructions for one assignment where nothing has changed for the assignment except the different textbooks’ page numbers.

next

As can be seen, all three textbooks have the same assignment, The Melting Pot, just on different pages.

Things Colleges can do

Another thing that can be done to lower the cost of expensive textbooks is the college can become creative. For example, one college (South Georgia Technical College) is helping students with the cost of textbooks by paying and providing their students with their needed textbooks. Just listen to Sparky Reeves’s (University President of South Georgia Technical College) out of the box thinking in the video below.

As seen, the question is: How can South Georgia Technical College pay for these textbooks effectively and efficiently? And the answer according to Sparky Reeves is that the college’s foundation is helping with the revenue stream and the college is taking local funds to purchase the textbooks on the frontend.

Other examples are (1) how some colleges are partnering with Flat World,

where the college licenses the college’s textbook content from Flat World, which allows the students to access all the textbook content for their courses digitally, which costs the student about $25 per corse, (2) how some colleges are using software such as Hero,

which allows for transparency between the store, faculty, and students so the less expensive textbook can be chosen, and (3) the most creative way some colleges are lowering the cost of expensive textbooks is by not even using textbooks. For example, TCC offers textbook free courses and even a textbook free associate of science degree in business administration, which is known as the “Z Degree,” where the “Z” stands for zero textbook cost.

TCC’s “Z” courses during the first semester of the pilot program estimated to have students save $40,000 in textbook costs (News @ TCC: TCC’S TEXTBOOK-FREE DEGREE GARNERS NATIONAL ATTENTION, 2015).

References

News @ TCC: TCC’S TEXTBOOK-FREE DEGREE GARNERS NATIONAL ATTENTION. (2015).http://www.tcc.edu/news/press/2014/zdegreecbn.htm

Trends in Higher Education: Average Estimated Undergraduate Budgets, 2014-15. (2015).http://trends.collegeboard.org/college-pricing/figures-tables/average-estimated-undergraduate-budgets-2014-15#Key%252520Points

The Only Online Learning Tool Needed: Writing, Writing and Writing

This post originally appears here

Facebook Teaches Teachers how to Teach
As of 7/28/15, Facebook has 1.49 billion monthly active users (DMR: Digital Marketing Stats / Strategy / Gadgets, 2015) – not a million, but a billion. So, as online faculty, why is this number important? It’s important because Facebook shows us how our students communicate online, which is through writing, writing and writing. And I know what you are thinking, “Facebook allows for pictures and videos.” Yes, but the main communication is still through writing, writing and writing. So, yes, you may upload a video on Facebook for grandma to see. But after the upload, the communication afterwards is through writing, writing and writing. Grandma says, “O’ how sweet. I’m so glad to see Gladys is playing soccer. She’s so good. Tell her I love her.” And, as the uploader, you reply back, “Your welcome, mom. Love you too.” Then maybe even cousin Julius replies too or your friend Jane from college who grandma has never even met or maybe even Larry replies, who lives on the other side of the world, who you have never even met. And, in a nut shell, this is the online world and the main way of online communication, which is through writing, writing and writing.

Why Change the Way we Communicate
As online faculty, with our online classes, why do we change the world’s norm of online communication? I mean, if the way our students communicate online is through writing, writing and writing then why not let our students learn through writing, writing and writing. I mean, think about it. What if, for an onsite class, we had all our students scoot their chairs into a circle. But instead of letting the students talk to each other, we make every student pull out their online devices aka their cell phones, and we tell them that they must text each other instead of talking to each other. This would make no sense. But this is exactly what we do in our online classes. We change the norm of online communication. We have all our students scoot all together in front of their computer screens for an online discussion, but instead of the students writing, writing and writing, which is the norm of online communication, we make every student use this tool and that tool to emulate an onsite course (make a video, use VoiceThread, etc.). This makes no sense too. But this is exactly what we do in our online classes.

Three Reasons to not use Online Tools That Emulate an Onsite Course
Now, of course, there are great online tools that can emulate an onsite course. And that’s great. But it’s not the main way our students communicate online. And, to be honest, most of my students think such online tools are a waste of their time. And, as an online instructor for more than 100 students a semester, I must agree. I mean, think about it. One, the online student must learn how to use an online tool that emulates an onsite course, which has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter. So, I can see how this seems to be a waste of time. Two, not all instructors use the same online tools. So, students have to learn new online tools, depending on their instructor, which again, has absolutely nothing to do with the subject matter. And which again, I can see how this seems to be a waste of time. And three, not all students are able to get the new online tool that emulates an onsite course, which is completely unfair to the students, economically. And yes, for number three, even if the tool is free, a student’s computer, believe or not, may not be able to hold the new tool. But all students’ computers can write, write and write.
The Oral Communication Objective can be Assessed
Lastly, I’m well aware, as faculty, for our online courses, we have created course objectives that we believe a student must meet. And one of those objectives that seems to be a barrier for online courses is the oral communication objective. So how do our online student’s meet this objective? Well, first and foremost, as faculty, for our online courses, we have to erase any memory of teaching onsite and any memory of taking a class onsite. And then we can answer the question, a question such as: if a student does not upload a video of themselves presenting as they would do in an onsite class then how can the oral communication objective be assessed? Well, with all memory of onsite classes erased, one way is to upload a video of an oral presentation, and let the student critique the video through writing, writing and writing (written form). Or another way is to have a written scenario of someone giving an oral presentation, and let the student critique the scenario through writing, writing and writing (written form). These are just two ideas off the type of my head as I’m writing. But the point is that the oral communication objective that seems like a barrier is not a barrier and can be assessed. And it’s simple. If a student shows they understand how to present orally then they met this oral communication objective.

References

DMR: Digital Marketing Stats / Strategy / Gadgets. (2015). http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/by-the-numbers-17-amazing-facebook-stats/

My 2014’s 9x9x25 Challenge Reflection

The 3 Things I added to dotcomYOGA.com

This year’s 9x9x25 Challenge motivated me to add 3 things to my website (dotcomYOGA.com) that I would have not added otherwise.

Number 1: I added a ‘Wellness Articles’ Section

During this Challenge, as I was writing about the behavior strategy SMART (How to Start a SMART Workout), I realized that some of the things I’m writing about for this Challenge are specific to wellness. So, I added a ‘Wellness Articles’ section. This section will be for my Personal Health & Wellness and Weight Management students at Yavapai College, for my Personal Wellness Concepts students at Tidewater Community College, and, of course, for anyone who can access the internet.

Number 2: I added a ‘Yoga Articles’ Section

During this Challenge, as I was writing about the new technological Yoga Smart Mat (Two Reasons SmartMat’s Second Promotional Video Ain’t Too Smart), I realized that I have a lot I want to say about Yoga specifically. So, I added a ‘Yoga Articles’ section. Now, before I added this section, I did a little research about the best length for online articles. And based on my research, and the type of website I have, I decided to have this section for Yoga articles that are only between 150 and 200 words in length.

Number 3: I added a ‘Yoga Poses’ Section

For years, I’ve wanted to add a ‘Yoga Poses’ section, especially for my online Yoga students. So, during this Winter Break, I will add a ‘Yoga Poses’ section that will have short videos of Yoga poses and modified Yoga poses. This section will be great for my online Yoga students who will be able to access these videos through their online Yoga course.

In Addition

In addition, I know this specific 9x9x25 writing is shorter than 25 sentences, but this is another thing that I want to mention in this Reflection. Sometimes a subject I’m writing about just doesn’t need 25 sentences. So, since this is my 9x9x25 Challenge Reflection, I will go ahead and make this point by stopping at 13 sentences.

Shorten the Chain to Work out After Work

Chaining is a behavioral strategy. It is based on the notion that for a behavior to occur a number of actions must take place. In regards to chaining, these actions are seen as links in a chain that lead to a desired action. The shorter the chain, less links/actions, the more likely the desired action will happen. The longer the chain, more links/actions, the more likely the desired action will not happen.

In this writing, I will give one example of how the behavioral strategy of chaining works.

The Desire Action to Work out After Work

The Long Chain – What you usually do: It’s 5 o’clock pm on Monday. You leave work; you drive home (20 minutes); you get home; you look at the mail (5 minutes); you grab a snack (5 minutes); you get your gym clothes together (10 minutes); you drive to the gym (20 minutes); you work out (60 minutes); you drive back home (20 minutes); you take a shower and get dressed (10 minutes), and you begin to prepare dinner at 7:30 pm.

The Short Chain – What you could do: It’s 5 o’clock pm on Monday. You leave work; you drive to the gym (10 minutes – because you choose a gym close to your work); you pull out your gym bag from the trunk that you packed the night before that even has a snack bar in it; you eat the snack bar while walking into the gym and to the locker room; you work out (60 minutes); you take a shower and get dressed at the gym (10 minutes); you drive home (10 minutes), and you begin to prepare dinner at 6:30 pm.

As seen, the first chain is long, with more links/actions, thus, based on the behavior strategy of chaining; the desired action to work out is less likely to happen. The second chain is short, with less links/actions, thus, based on the behavior strategy of chaining; the desired action to work out is more likely to happen.

On a Side Note

It’s not just about having too many links/actions that may hinder you from working out, but it’s about the types of links/actions that may hinder you from working out.

For example, the link/action of going home first could make it harder for you to leave the house, preventing you from working out. This link/action should not be the first link/action in the chain to work out, but it should be final link/action in the chain to work out.

Another example with the link/action of going home first, it could accidently create more links/actions that were not part of the chain to work out like ‘getting stuck’ talking to your neighbor in your driveway for 15 minutes about the civic league meeting last night.

So, make sure your chain to work out does not just have less links/actions, but it has ‘smart’ links/actions.