Week 14 POT – This is the End

In keeping with (or departing from) the syllabus’ ’60s music theme, This is the End. Actually, I’m too young to much remember this music 😉

The following list includes my posts and (very) brief summaries of their content for this MiraCosta College Program for Online Teaching certification session:

Week 1 Post: An introduction to me, what I do, and my level of ease using WordPress

Week 2 Post: A reflection on the results of my beginner’s / getting started questionnaire and my confidence level in teaching online at the time

Week 3 Post: Ideas about what instructional elements I plan, or at least hope to explore further, as I design my online courses

Week 4 Post: Ideas about what I would/will include in an online syllabus

Week 5 Post: Ideas about what I would do to attempt to replicate the feeling of community in the online portion of hybrid courses I teach

Week 6 Post: Ideas about online students activities that I think would work, be effective, and be valuable for language learning

Week 7 Post: Reflections on intellectual property and commentary about how different cultures view this differently

Week 8 Post: Class elements I have created with external Web tools and sites (shortlist) and my first attempt at using TechSmith Relay

Week 9 Post: My initial draft of FAQs for the hybrid Vocational ESL class I teach

Week 10 Post: My experience with CMS/LMS, blogs, and wikis

Week 11 Post: What little I know about online educational theory (I’m a practician who learns through trial & error rather than a theorist) and key points of a text a read about the future trends in education in general

Week 12 Post: Musings on open education, flipped and blended learning

Week 13 Post: Reflections on the materials of this week and my PLN

Final Project

POT Presentation – MiraCosta College Fall 2014

Time flies when you're having fun!

Thanks to the moderators and all my fellow participants!  I learned a lot from you and feel more confident as I go forward with my hybrid ESL teaching.  Best wishes!

My final presentation on Universal Design for Learning Principles in Online Teaching:


Transcript: UD Considerations Kristi Reyes November 2014

Sources and Resources for Further Reading: UDL Sources and Resources




Week 13 POT – Personal Learning Networks

First, for the presentation, I just hope I’ll be able to finish it in time!  Again, my topic is UD in Online Teaching, perhaps with an emphasis on how it helps second language learners.  There is so much I could say, so I am trying to limit to 3 – 5 things that can be done in an online environment to ensure that students having a wide range of needs can be accommodated and have the best chances at accessing the course content.  Maybe I’ll be able to work on this a bit tomorrow while the fam has a turkey hangover…

This week’s materials about blogging and sharing were impressive. Sharing is something that I certainly advocate and have done a lot of. As for personal or professional blogging, I imagine in a few years when my young kids are older, these would great activities for me to pursue, but as a fulltime instructor with two kids (aged 4 and 11), free time to do anything for myself beyond a shower and once in a while a walk around the block is virtually impossible unless I get up at 4 or 5 a.m., which I used to do – not to have time to myself but to check students’ work and prepare lessons!

It’s interesting to see, from the Alex Couros piece (2010), how terminology changes with the rapid pace of technological developments. For example, he referred to “reverse instruction,” which has since been termed “flipped learning.” Also, the speaker mentioned tagging of pictures. Has anyone heard of Face.com (recently acquired by Facebook)? You can snap a picture of someone, and the app will scan the Web and basically tell you who the person is. Some good potential uses (e.g., catching criminals), but in the hands of freaks, scary, in my opinion….

I really appreciate what he mentioned about intergenerational learning. For the past eight+ years I have had a student in my class who is now 92 years old. His English has fossilized, which means it has reach a level at which certain errors are cemented and he really cannot improve. It doesn’t really matter, though, since he has lived here in the U.S. since 1980 and communicate well enough all of his needs and engage in conversation. He follows me because I integrated technology a lot, especially for student projects, and he loves creating digital stories about Iranian folk tales. This has absolutely nothing to do with my course content a lot of the time, but teaching noncredit makes it OK, in my opinion. Although my patience is tried at times, he mentioned once that without my class, he would probably be dead. It gives him a reason to get up in the morning, and working with computers keeps him mentally active. He has gotten to the point that he can’t really follow much of what is happening in class, but you should see the pride on his face when he shares his digital stories with the class. His grandsons are now in college and were born here, so these pieces of work (which often include his artist daughter’s artwork incorporated to most of this projects) are artefacts he will leave behind to his family – something that would not exist had he not taken classes that incorporated technology by putting it in the hands of students. This is the first digital story he created, in 2009. Since then, the student has made at least 20 more.

…back to the Alex Couros presentation, Did the student trustee really say “University of Virgina”?!! or did I hear that wrong? (see video at 0:52 – 0:54). As for sharing oneself online, I don’t like to do too much of that, especially beyond some basic professional profile/info. I have had some very strange and unsettling experiences. That’s why I don’t do FB and tell students they can “friend” me on LinkedIn because with students from many different cultures, and me being a friendly approachable American, they want to be a social friend, but I want them to understand that our relationship is professional. I am sure that a lot of community college instructors feel differently and are “friends” with students, but I don’t want to confuse my students, many of whom are new to the American educational system and workplace.

The following are a few bits of my PLN:


LinkedIn, which I don’t use to its full potential

CALPRO Communities of Practice

People in my discipline (ESL) and others whom I follow

Larry Ferlazzo’s blog

Shelly Terrell on Pinterest

Nik Peachy’s Learning Tech Blog and QuickShout and Daily English Activities

Rushton Hurley’s Next Vista for Learning (video projects)

And this is My Presentations Wiki

  Finally, to finish this week’s post, I share the following article I recently received in my email, which I find interesting because we always say, “Those digital natives just ‘know’ how to do technology,” which the research cited in the article disproves: THE Journal Teachers Better at Using Tech than Digital Natives Some excerpts….

School-age students may be fluent in using entertainment or communication technologies, but they need guidance to learn how to use these technologies to solve sophisticated thinking problems.

The school setting is the only institution that might create the needs to shape and facilitate students’ technology experience. Once teachers introduce students to a new technology to support learning, they quickly learn how to use it.

…teacher age had no impact on the kinds of technology skills they have. The gap between them and their students lies with how little opportunity students get to practice technology beyond pursuing their personal interests.

In many ways…it is determined by the requirements teachers place on their students to make use of new technologies and the ways teachers integrate new technologies in their teaching.

The report recommends that “high-quality training” be provided to teachers to help them learn how to integrate content-specific technology into their lessons and how to teach their students how to use technology more effectively.

Week 12 POT – Open Education

This week’s topics are interesting.

First, about MOOCS:  I don’t have much experience in this area, but from what I know of MOOCS, I love that they can be a great equalizer.  Students from anywhere in the world can “study” and learn from some of the leading educators and experts in the world…. However, having said that, I don’t think personally I would enjoy learning via a MOOC because (without having actually tried it) I predict that I would feel either too isolated or too overwhelmed.  No offense, anyone!!!

I am quite sure that if I did not already have a certain level of expertise in the subject being studied/taught in the MOOC, I would likely just be a lurker.  I prefer the intimacy of a smaller online cohort — both for learning and teaching.  It’s just a personality quirk, like how some people love attending huge parties of strangers and others (like me) loathe them.  For my teaching, I prefer to personalize the content and materials, and if I were to teach a MOOC, that would be quite a challenge:  I would imagine a sort of generic course (not slamming this – it works fine for some disciplines, no doubt), which I have seen before for ESL.  I could ramble on with details about examples of such courses in my discipline, but suffice it to say that these may be fine for some students and some teachers, but not for the type of teaching I do in my field.

I looked up open courses in my discipline, ESL, and found only one on the MIT site, which looked like a homogenous Chinese class, and on The Open Education Consortium site, all I found were pages of ESL Web sites with various types of interactive online exercises, but not really anything I would consider a real “course.”  This, to me, indicates that open course is a new frontier in my field, as there is not a lot out there that is 1) high quality 2) open or 3) free.

About flipping and blending:

I have been at doing some level (sometimes very basic level, especially at the beginning when access to computers was a big issue for students) “web-enhanced” instruction and blended learning for as long as I have been teaching in community colleges.  In Spring 2013, I wrote an article for my department newsletter on ideas for flipping and blending in ESL.

As for flipping, I appreciated the blog post Cris Chrisman referenced on “Why I Gave Up Flipped Instruction.”  While it’s wonderful to experiment and try new methods and techniques in our teaching, we should be wary of wholly embracing and implementing what could be passing fads (not that everything about flipping is that).  When I considered flipping my classroom in the traditional sense, I put myself in students’ shoes and thought, “Do I really want to go home and watch a video of a teacher talking at me?”  As the traditional lecture is becoming obsolete and is replaced with more interactive information dissemination, the flipping of lectures does not seem to be a great educational advancement.  I would be the kind of student who would put on the video lecture and try to get 10 other things done at the same time, whereas F2F, I would at least have to pretend to be listening to the lecture, but a truly engaging give-and-take Q and A session would hold my attention much better.  Of course there are the students who prefer auditory learning, but what percentage of the class are we losing by delivering content via video or podcast? In sum, we need to consider students’ needs, abilities, our discipline … and then take an eclectic approach to the various ed tech methodologies, taking from them what works best.

Added Resource:  Hippocampus

Final Week 14 Presentation Preliminary Idea:

It may be a yawner, but I am thinking about doing something on Universal Design for Education considerations for online teaching.  Need to think about this more….

Week 11 POT – Introduction to Online Education Theory

The videos and articles for this week remind me of the ideas presented in a book I read over the summer, Rethinking Education in the Age of Technology (Collins & Halverson). While Larry Sanger’s Individual Knowledge in the Internet Age (2010) and Jaron Lanier’s Does the Digital Classroom Enfeeble the Mind (2010) present somewhat differing views of the role of the Web in education and its effects, the authors of Rethinking Education don’t discount the value of a liberal arts education but assert that “school fosters just-in-case learning while technology fosters just-in-time learning….”

Basically, the authors state that we are in the midst of a Knowledge Revolution that will change the future of education with school becoming less and less the venue. Because of the constant changes in workplaces due to technological advances, “workers may spend their whole lives learning in order to survive in a changing workplace.” According to the authors, learning how to learn and learning how to find useful resources are becoming the most important goals of education – and this does not mean memorization but rather analysis, critical thinking, evaluation – all higher order thinking skills in Bloom’s Taxonomy. The authors write that education should and will be geared more toward what learners want to learn; thus, learning will be more engaging because students will be more in charge of their own learning.

Here are some of the ideas presented in the book, which I find fascinating, regarding how education may change in the future:

  • Whole new education system will be formed, evidenced by the growth of homeschooling, workplace learning, distance ed, learning centers, software.
  • While elementary schools will continue as is because they provide childcare and early socialization, in the upper grades, there will be a return to training for careers through apprenticeships in hybrid-ish. Students will study content online and occasionally attend centralized learning centers for hands-on training. Students will learn by doing. Because learning will be more self-paced, students will decide when they are ready to take an exam.
  • K-12 grades will no longer be defined by age – students of mixed age groups will learn from older people/adults at the learning centers.
  • There will be national credentials – students would earn performance-based, certificates. These certificates would be more narrowly focused than a high school diploma, thus allowing students to get jobs more readily out of high school or college because they will have specialized training with the apprenticeship model.
  • Students will be able to earn a number of certifications, and different careers/majors will require certain certifications. Students study for these certifications at their own pace. Students will be able to customize their education to their particular career interests, needs, and abilities, giving learners more control of what, how, and when they study. Certifications will be developed in three areas: academic skills, generic skills, and technical skills.
  • Although there are some negatives for this new educational system, there will be universal access to education through the Web (as we see already a bit with Kahn’s Academy and MOOCS).

To conclude this post, I do agree with Larry Sanger’s points, and admittedly, with at least one of Lanier’s arguments. To use a personal anecdote: Last Friday I saw the movie Interstellar (two thumbs up, by the way) with my 11-year-old daughter. After the movie, she had to explain to me about worm holes, black holes, and the fifth dimension (all of which I still don’t get). Where did she learn about all this? In school? Through a class assignments? No, of course not. She has an interest in space, and so she researched on her own online. Did she memorize? Of course, a bit, but her explanations certainly were not verbatim – she paraphrased and put into layman’s terms (for me, having such limited knowledge on the topic) because she had been able to read and watch sophisticated materials online which appealed to her interest, on her own time, accessing the materials any time and perusing them at her own pace. It seems to me that anyone with motivation and aptitude can teach themselves almost anything for free online. He or she just needs to know how to access the materials and to evaluate the authenticity, relevancy, and credibility of the sources. “School” will be where students meet up to get clarification/guidance from teachers on what they have studied, learn to learn, and work on soft skills (such as teamwork, people skills, negotiation, display of a positive attitude and good work ethic).s

Week 10 POT – Classroom Management and Facilitation

I do not feel very qualified to critique a particular LMS/CMS based on my limited experience teaching and learning online, so this week’s post will be quite general, but I hope to learn from more in-depth analyses from other participants in the POT certification course.  I have only ever used Blackboard for teaching, and I have only ever taken courses through Moodle.

I do believe that an LMS could influence pedagogy; however, I think the ease of use and set-up of an LMS could be an even greater influence on students’ ability to find their way through the course, which has a great impact on persistence/retention.  Just like any one textbook doesn’t fill all my needs and desires in teaching my discipline, any one LMS can’t provide everything I would wish it to have.  Similarly, I have no doubt that one’s teaching style could be enhanced or stifled by a particular LMS, but I haven’t experienced that at this point.

For quite a few years I used blogs and wikis (not for teaching online but for providing supplemental exercises to students, publishing and sharing their work).  Also, as I have mentioned elsewhere, in noncredit ESL our students don’t register on SURF, so they do not know their student ID numbers or passwords until we provide them to the students.  Verifying that the default passwords for Blackboard work and re-setting them takes hours of my time for the first week of any given term.  With blogs and wikis, I would just share one login and password with all the students in the class, and this gave students much more freedom to post their own work and share it with their families in their native countries.  Then, about 5 – 6 years ago, I had a situation in which one of my former students was murdered in Tijuana.  His murderer(s) began trolling the internet and posting nasty things on the deceased student’s online postings and profiles.  His family contacted me and asked me to take down his wiki page but to send me his work (PowerPoint slide shows, paragraphs, other class projects) for them to remember him by. Since then, I don’t have students post work online as part of my classes, which is sad, because “publication” is an important part of writing and producing original work.  Therefore, for the past few years, I have mostly been using Blackboard — students’ submissions, as innocuous as they are, are safe behind passwords —  and now my strategy is that if an LMS can’t do what I want to be able to do, I use outside tools linked in areas of my LMS.

For the blended teaching I have been doing (hybrid teaching only in the past few weeks), using an LMS has several benefits, especially that I can assess students’ listening, speaking, reading, and writing in one place, freeing up class time for communicative, cooperative learning in pairs and groups, thus maximizing their time together F2F because for a lot of the students, class time together is the only time they are immersed in English.  To have them sit quietly and read or just listen to me lecture or take written tests or write their paragraphs would not be the best use of the time they have to be physically together in a classroom.

A few months ago I heard about Google Classroom (released in June), and so I decided to check it out a little with the limited time I have this week.  This video gives an overview.  The thing I would like best about Google Classroom is that everything is integrated with Google products/applications (Google Drive, Docs, a gradebook), but from this video it does look very basic.  I imagine it would be good for a writing / English class, but for my classes, I needed voice tools, so I need to research further to find out if it also integrates Google Voice. These Teacher Tech blog posts lists 20 Things You Can Do with Google Classroom and 15 MORE Things You Can Do with Google Classroom.  I’m sure with all the geniuses working at Google and after more input from real teachers, Google Classroom will be developed further, but I wouldn’t use it at this point.  The thing that I like most about it is that students don’t need any software, just a Gmail account (and actually not even that, it looks like).  That would solve a problem that I often have – students don’t have Office products on their home computers, or if they do, they may have old versions, so the work they do at school can’t be opened properly at home. However, I don’t teach computers, and to show a whole class how to use Google Docs and Google Drive would take a couple hours of class time.  My focus is on language teaching, not computers, but if I ever taught an ESL for computers class, I would probably consider another LMS besides Blackboard.

Another type of LMS I have heard a lot about because some colleague at another CC in my discipline love to use is Edmodo.  Has anyone used it?  I have an account but to set up a whole new class in a new LMS is time-consuming.

I have the old edition of the Ko and Rossen text, which doesn’t seem to match up with the topics listed for this week (I see no mention of Twitter, which I doubt I will ever use in my teaching, anyway, nor of any of the other more up-to-date topics), unfortunately.  Any-hoos, the biggest take-away (which I learned the hard way) is to direct students to email me for certain things (such as asking questions, report absences, and such) but to use Blackboard Messages to email me their class work.  Several times I have lost students’ work because they sent it to me to my work email account, and with all the spam and “All Users” emails, I have inadvertently permanently deleted their work.  With the Messages, they have their Sent box to forward me work they send if I accidently delete it.