Peer Review

  1. How to access my module:
  2. Basic information about your project, anything you think they would need as context
    • The purpose of my module is to help first semester freshmen better understand what blended learning is at VCU, and develop methods that will support academic achievement in those learning environments. I recommend navigating to the “Course Information” link first. There you will find information about what to expect for each lesson as well as learning goals, lesson structure, and contact info.  The links at the top of this page will take you to the pages for each lesson.  I also posted an Introduction link just to give students a quick, broad overview of blended learning in college.
  3. Where you are in developing this project (what has been done, what will be done)
    • I have posted the first and third lesson. I have yet to complete the remaining lessons. I am still looking for a good case study for my second lesson to provide greater context for my college freshmen. Many students think they are immune to academic challenges until they find themselves in that situation. The third lesson requires students to complete a 90 day academic challenge and I want them at that point in their learning process to have a good understanding of what their learning needs are and how to identify their goal to focus on for 90 days. I’m open to case study suggestions as well as your thoughts if I’ve provided the appropriate “scaffolding” for this to happen.
  4. What feedback would you like (Which sections should they look at, what questions or doubts do you have about your project)
    • I’m looking for feedback if you think I should add an “About Instructor” section to my blog so I can build teacher presence and connection?
    • I’m also looking for feedback about where or how to insert my icebreaker activity. I blogged earlier this semester that my students will be paired into blog buddies at the beginning of the course. Since they will be commenting on each other’s blogs about relatively sensitive and personal issues, I want to assign an icebreaker activity at the beginning of the course as an opportunity for each student to get to know one another. I originally thought about the Something You Want to Learn activity, but now I’m having second thoughts. I’m open to thoughts on college appropriate icebreaker activities that would help them feel comfortable getting to know one another and then where you think that might fit in? Should I do that in the beginning before they start the module? Should it be its own tab?
    • Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated. Thanks!
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7 thoughts on “Peer Review

  1. Mary this is a really great introduction to the concepts you’re teaching! As far as your instructor presence goes, I think that has a great deal to do with what feels most authentic and natural to you and your facilitation style! If you do decide to include this section, perhaps you could use your “About Me” to discuss something you think would help bridge the gap between you and your learners–maybe introducing your own history with course concepts (have you encountered any struggles in your journey as you acclimated to new types of learning environments, and what strategies you leveraged for success)?

    I think an ice-breaker would be a great way to get your blog-buddies interacting more comfortably, but I agree with and understand your reservations in how it could/should be included. I would probably assign this as the first thing your learners do together–so either as its own tab or as the first part of your lesson plan in that introductory week? If it is not a graded assignment, and there’s a way to clarify that, that may also help reduce any learner anxiety about being authentic during the activity! Is there a way to get learners engaged in this activity more immediately than blogging? (Like a Twitter blast where they react to a question or prompt and follow using a hashtag, or something like SnapChat where they might record a short video of themselves and share out?) I like the idea of asking learners to “draw a picture” of something which is shared with a blog buddy and in an online environment you could ask them to accomplish this in a number of ways (Microsoft Paint could be fun, but learners could also use online tools and/or other media to illustrate their ideas).

    In terms of the 90-day action challenge, I was really impressed! I think this is going to be a really powerful exercise for students and it is written in a way which is approachable and easy to transition into. I was wondering–are there any tools you could share that might introduce some practices for self-evaluation of their progress and understanding? (http://www.lifescied.org/content/11/2/113/T1.expansion.html) If students were asked to blog about this prior to the 90 day challenge it might provide some insight into their readiness to complete the challenge.

    • Thank you, Brie! You offered some great suggestions. I really like your icebreaker idea incorporating twitter or snapchat. I think switching up some of the mediums students use instead of always blogging can not only increase their motivation but their creativity skills as well. I also think a blog post about self-evaluation would allow for more practice in self-evaluation prior to the 90 day action challenge. I will plan to incorporate that into my second lesson after the case study reading. All very helpful insight! I appreciate your feedback!

      • These are great ideas. Remember however that every technology tool you introduce (twitter, snachat, etc.) you will need to supply instructions on use. While we tend to think that college students have all these accounts already and know how to use them, it is still you responsibility as the instructor to make sure of this, and if some students do not already know how to use these tools, you will have to teach them. Also, some students may not want to mix their personal social media accounts with school activities.

  2. Mary,

    I really love the layout you have for your online module. Very accessible and it appears that everything has a flow to it. I like the idea of having the section about the instructor incorporated into your online course. Though it may not be face-to-face interaction, it will probably bridge a connection more with your audience knowing who the instruction is. This gives your learning environment a more humanistic feel for students to relate. I like your explanation of what a blended/hybrid course is for students to understand a little better. This will help students become knowledgeable and prepared in know what the course type is and how this will improve their college success. I think the icebreaker could be incorporated as a “pre-lesson” before the meat of the course begins, similar to what you have as a “pre-test” within lesson one. The “one-interesting-fact” activity is something I’ve seen in multiple online courses which seems to be the most popular. Great job!

    -C. Oliver

  3. General thoughts:

    – on the home page, i would make that a static page, not a posts page. That way students will not have to click to see the entire paragraph.

    – The course description is good. You may want to give more details on any cycles you will use (ie. weekly, bi-weekly, etc). If every week, things are due on Friday, this is a good place to list that (I just noticed you have this in the lesson structure section, so never mind). I wouldn’t use the word “regularly”. Be more specific.

    – You have already completed more than enough for this course. So how much further you go is up to you. OK?

    – When using rampages, you have to be careful about the menus. If I click on “lessons”, but don’t click on a sub-menu, i go to a black page. I usually just re-create the sub-menu textually on the page. For example, on our course site, click on “assignments”

    – I think both lessons 1 and 3, look good. On question, students won’t complete their 90 day challenge during your course because you 10 week course is less than 90 days, right? They are just planning it, right?

    – nice job on this

    “I’m looking for feedback if you think I should add an “About Instructor” section to my blog so I can build teacher presence and connection?”

    – I always do this. Talking about hobbies and things generally helps me find connections to my students, and I have found that helps. Tat being said, it also takes more than that as well. I try to foster relationships through the connections that come up by people discussing their hobbies vs mine. So in addition to just having the “about me” section, I try to build on these connections through an introduction blog post (which is also useful for students to get to know the environment), and then I try to continually foster these connections throughout the course. For example, there is almost always another musician in every course I teach. So I often post stuff on twitter and other places and tag those people. It creates a cool connection, and really is one of the reasons i like teaching in the first place. This is also something that can’t be faked. If its not your personality to reach out in these ways, don’t do it, figure out your style, and build on that.

    – I think in today’s environment, it is also a good idea to have a digital presence anyway. You may want to develop a personal web site that you can steer students to, or a professional twitter account that they can see.

    “I’m open to thoughts on college appropriate icebreaker activities that would help them feel comfortable getting to know one another and then where you think that might fit in? Should I do that in the beginning before they start the module? Should it be its own tab?”

    – So, you know your demographic better than i do. I have never taught college undergrads, professionally, the SOE is a graduate school, and I work more with in-service K-12 teachers than I do pre-service teachers. So my advice is to take what you know about them and build on that in authentic ways. For example, in working with K-12 teachers I ask them about who, where and what they teach. I then discuss my time in K-12 teaching. So I guess I would try to find something personal-ish that undergrads share and then use that as a jumping off point for an ice-breaker/get-to-know-them activity. You can also use this activity as an introduction to the technologies that you are using. You want to address that as well early on, so they are not thinking about when they are thinking about content. You can also this opportunity to embed content learning, but you have to be careful with this. For example, I use the blogging intro activity at the beginning of this course to teach how to use the blogs, have students experience communicating digitally and to get to know everyone.

  4. Hi Mary

    I think you did a great job with your assignment. Its really well thought out and laid out. I like the idea of having an instructor section. It gives the students an additional way of connecting to you. They may be able to connect with something that you said in the about section. I would also introduce the icebreaker section before the content of the course is laid out. Here are additional ideas for activities. Some should be able to be adapted to online use. http://www.trainingforchange.org/tools. They have a lot of different activities designed for adults.

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