Tag Archive for 9x9x25

Getting Some QM Rolling Along

Last week we had 18 faculty in a seven hour workshop about Quality Matters. The title of the workshop was “Applying the Quality Matters Rubric.” It is described by QM as,
“The Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) workshop is QM’s flagship workshop on the QM Rubric and the process of using the QM Rubric to review online courses. It is intended for a broad audience, including but not limited to faculty, instructional designers, administrators, and adjunct instructors who wish to understand more about the QM Rubric and process of course review.”

What excites me the most about Quality Matters is not so much the rubric itself, but the peer reviewing process that is part of the implementation of course reviews. While all the faculty who go through the Applying the Rubric workshop have access to an online self–review tool from QM, there is also a peer review process that can be done at the local college level or by having qualified faculty from other QM institutions review a course and get a course “QM Certified.” Either way, I am excited to get some of our faculty involved in an organized process of peer reviewing courses. I have been part of the “Blackboard Exemplary Course” process over the last few years and it is always really a great learning experience for me. I see course from other institutions and can see how they are organized and designed. I can see the different tools used and how the faculty see the delivery process of the class. And Blackboard has its own rubric.

In fact, it was the Exemplary Course program from Blackboard where we first got the idea for our “Faculty Course Tours” on the Webletter. While the tours are not a peer review process, at least you can peer into a colleague’s course and see how they describe what they do. I think that is important. Particularly important in the online environment where faculty do not often see what others are doing well. Maybe you can do a course tour of your awesome class and send it to me! Here is our awesome Jason Whitesitt’s contribution.



At the QM workshop, it was great to see that many faculty wondering about improving courses in a systematic way. It is not as if we do not have pretty good participation at our summer and winter institutes, but it is not often that 18 faculty spend a whole day on a topic regarding online teaching. We will be doing the workshop again. Hopefully, within a few months.

I think it is important that we take this opportunity with QM and really leverage the interest in it. I hope that when the workshops are offered they are mostly full and that some faculty continue on with other QM workshops that allow them to become certified reviewers. I hope that the division deans take the workshop so they can be better informed when looking at faculty courses and making informed decisions about them. I hope our upper management take the workshop so they can better understand the challenges and intricacies of teaching online. I hope that the QM rubric and the peer review process become part of the teaching culture here at Yavapai. I think we can learn much and make some good strides in improving our courses.

The Autumn

While school has been back in session for a number of weeks now, Autumn is only recently officially here. Autumn’s arrival is, for most of us, synonymous with the start of school. As nature’s cycle wanes, the campuses come alive. They are fresh with optimism and renewal. They are the spring sprouts amid the fallen leaves. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”  This moment is why I am here. My spirit soars when the students and faculty arrive. Who thinks of summer as desolate? Yet, as one passionate for academics, I am fine with the summer’s end. I have felt this way forever. Further, I cannot recall a time when the call to teach was not in my heart.

And so it was that in my youth I aspired to teach youth. In my adolescence, I aspired to teach adolescents. In my tertiary education, I could imagine only college teaching as a suitable place to seek fulfillment. There is irony, then, in my parent’s guidance that teaching was not an acceptable career track. They saved me from becoming an education major, and therefore setting my trajectory into secondary schools. By dissuading me from pursuing what was in my heart at high school graduation, my parents unwittingly directed me into the field of communication, and therefore into a field that I would ultimately study in sufficient amounts to qualify to become a college professor.

I often say that no one thinks as a child that they aspire to be a professor. Many faculty members landed in the academy because they chose paths of intellectual passion that had few opportunities within them except to teach. Few, at least anecdotally, expressed the passion for teaching first. Then, again, when I tell my own story, I usually begin by suggesting that my first career was in the media. It is only in deeper discussions that I reveal my mostly secret early aspiration to teach.

For some years now I have been engaged in hiring faculty members.  What I am looking for is not hard to articulate. What I am looking for is hard to find. How do you identify, within the confines of the academic search process, deeply held passion for interacting with students?  It may seem an identifiable characteristic, but in practice, I have found that passion disguised within crusty, rules-bound classroom tyrants and laid-back, free-style instructional facilitators. I have found it in lecturers and active-learning leaders, in essay testers, oral examiners and Scantron processors. I have found it in community organizers and Constitution originalists. It is only revealed in the act of teaching, over time. When I see it, I know it, but it can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.


A Taste of Your Own Medicine

doctor   “Your Dad is going to be okay.” That’s what the doctor said right after his pacemaker operation early last week. Dad would be in the hospital 3-4 days, and then be sent home with medicine for recuperation. It’s been a scary month of doctor visits, new medicine, tests and more tests; and then more medicine. Then, oops! Well, guess he’s not okay. Back into the hospital we go. Not sure what happened, but it the medicine is fixed and we go home again; then back to the hospital. You see, this takes place in just a week. I’m behind in my grading, my copies and posting for class this week. There is no time to sleep, and, DANG, I haven’t finished by 9x9x25 yet (sorry, Todd).

Okay, now I see what my students see and feel – chaos. Especially those first-year students who are already on overwhelm, and we’re not quite at mid-semester. You know the defenses: “I’m having difficulty managing school, my job, my kids, and my family.” “There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” “I can’t come to class – couldn’t finish my assignment – my child is sick.” We’ve heard them all.

Breathe, I tell them. Just breathe. It’s just setting priorities -like medicine – creating a schedule for each category – reading – writing – studying – working – family. Allow some flexibility for those events you can’t schedule, like family illness. But, don’t forget to breathe.

Interestingly, this week’s focus is on brain care and balance – Exercise – Food – Sleep. Get enough of each. Shorting one creates disorder in another. “Just 30 minutes of exercise gives you increased blood flow and helps with concentration, memory, mood, learning, and stress, I tell them, and it will help you balance all those things you need to get done.” Eat good food – fruits and vegetables – good fats – feed your brain. Get good sleep. It’s proven that sleep actually has neurological benefits far beyond rest and rejuvenation. “Oh, and don’t’ forget to breathe”, I tell them all the time.

Ahem. Not quite so easy when the advice, or “medicine”, is for me. I have priorities. I have schedules. I’m really good at knowing what’s due and when. I have reminders to post information or make copies for class, or to remind students. There’s a different set of expectations from different places, and yet there’s no one to remind me of those priorities. No one to give me that medicine?

Today, I’m finishing up with required Instructor-Student meetings. It was my last student meeting today. She reminded me to just breathe?   breathe


What about the iPad?

When I first started using the iPad, I was really excited. I could sit on the couch in the living room and work on this tablet in the evening. But what I learned is that I could not easily access assignments in Blackboard, but the Discussion Board posts were visible with no problem. In later updates, the assignments came up as well, but only if opened using the "Needs Grading" window. Although this is a minor issue, I still can't scroll through the entire grade book on the iPad, so I seldom use it for Blackboard access. I am sure that newer Blackboard apps will come out to correct and improve the functionality of grading on this device.

The iPad is great for checking my work and personal email, the bank account, and Facebook. I also have a Brother app so I can print files open on the iPad at home. I can also access Dropbox files with the Dropbox app, which makes life really convenient when needing to access work files even when not sitting at my office computer. The trick here is that I have to save the files to Dropbox and not the Z-drive. I am sure many of you have much to share that would encourage me to use this device for even more work-related purposes. Please share.

One of the best attributes of the iPad is the larger viewing screen for many of my apps such as Kindle, Overdrive, and others. I can make the screen view a full page or turn horizontally to have a split page that looks like a traditional book. I feel that the iPad is a Kindle on steroids, and much more. If you are considering getting a Kindle, don't, unless you really want the smaller screen. I have been very happy reading books on the iPad. The lighting options, ability to increase font size, and so on are great. Even an elderly relative with very poor vision was able to read text on this device.

Also, my husband and I bought a Fisher Price case for the iPad and purchased some really awesome games for our grandsons. We believe a solid case is a must. The iPad has fallen off the back of our couch onto the tile floor more times than we can count--with no damage. If you have preschoolers, please check out Endless Reader, Endless Numbers, the Toca games, Monkey Math, and Monkey Preschool. I am sure actual parents of preschoolers know far more than a grandma.

Honestly, when traveling across country, the iPad was more comfortable to work on than the regular laptop when browsing and reading. When I had to get down to serious grading, however, I did go for the laptop most of the time. A laptop computer has a better work interface because of the stability of the shape and size as well as the traditional keyboard. I am not a fan of using the touch keyboard on tablet computers. Also, using the laptop would nudge me to go sit at the desk, which is better for posture.

One last tip--with an iPad, less is more. What I mean by this is that although many apps are free, managing the updates for all of those free apps can be time consuming. My suggestion is to keep your apps to the minimum of those you really use. Also, keep apps in handy folders. This will make the iPad more user friendly for you and those with whom you share the device.

I hope this brief blog will help educators who are considering what type of tech tool to purchase for home, work, and family purposes. I wish you the best in your decision.

Let’s get physical ♪♫

physical fitness

Physical fitness is having the energy to meet our daily physical demands.  You know, demands like jumping out of bed, enjoying our morning stretch/run, job duties, the big box store trip, or keeping up with the rest of the family’s schedule. As well as handling any unexpected challenges like assisting a sick relative, or being able to dodge a falling rock with grace and ease. Physical fitness also includes having the energy to enjoy our choice of recreational and leisure activities too~

There are a number of components that make up the entire package of being physically fit.

  1. Cardiorespiratory. Our body needs oxygen.  We inhale it into our lungs where it is absorbed into our bloodstream.  That fresh 02-ed blood travels to our heart where it is pumped out to the rest of the body.  The better our heart and lungs work the stronger our cardiorespiratory fitness is.  My Zumba® Fitness class is a fantastic way to build up this system.  It’s fun, easy, and makes for a good sweat~
  1. Muscular Strength and Endurance. Muscular Strength is the contracting of muscles.  This allows us  to do something that requires strength like lifting the grandkids, planting a tree, etc.  Muscular Endurance is the ability to repeatedly work the muscles over a length of time.  Like baling hay, gardening, or frequently transporting car seats.  Working out in with me in the weight room is a great way to build this component.
  1. Flexibility is the range of motion around a joint.  All joints.  Toes, ankles, knees, hips, spine, shoulders, & neck. Flexibility improves our posture, can give us a sense of relaxation, release muscle tension, and also reduce the risk of injury.  I LOVE teaching my morning classes of Stretch and Flex and Yogalates to enhance our flexibility for daily living~

There are so many ways to up your physical fitness.  I hope that you are already in the habit of incorporating movement into your daily life.  Classes are a great way to create and keep momentum.  Check out a new PE class at Yavapai this next semester.  You’ll meet some new folks, and reap lots of seen and unseen benefits.  Let’s get physical ♫♪

Cheers to your health~

president's physical fitness