Tuesday, February 28, 2006

making it work

I am going through and making refinements to the course...checking links, instructions, functionality, etc.

I am concerned that the reflecting pool activity is not clear enough. Also, it is a private activity and i will not be interacting in it... i am concerned about the activity working as i intend. With out my interaction and because it is private, what is the motivation for the participants to do it? I am doing it in this way to take into account my workload and the workload for the workshop participants.

I am also concerned that the the readings and assignments have no or little feedback/assessment planned. I am torn between wanting to model effective course design/management, and being able to deal with the workload and realistic expectations for participation from the participants... the reality is that this is a workshop, not a course, and in a workshop the expectations and time frame (3 weeks) are different. The discussions really are the meat of this workshop.

not a breeze...

I spent most of the week end creating my first Breeze presentation. It was really fun. i got all the way through, i even edited a bunch of "ummmms" out of the audio, and then published it... no problems.

But my powerpoint did not display in Breeze the way it does in PowerPoint. I worked on it 5 hours today to get it to display well... it is really weird, because to get it to display right i had to make modifications in the original powerpoint that make it look weird in powerpoint... it is something about the fonts i think... i don't know i am using regular fonts... i have no clue why it is doing what it is doing. thank god i got it to come out right.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


... is making me wait...i am finding things really slow... changing from page to page, opening documents, saving documents. I have a thought, click to edit and by the time it comes up i forgot what i was there for...

I just had the opportunity this past week to build a course in WebCT. interesting...working in moodle was definitely a help in my ability to pick up WebCT more quickly. I am not crazy about WebCT either by the way. Too many clicks to do anything, discussion is really really really bad, can integrate discussion into the linear presentation of course content...too many clicks, confusing, too many clicks... did i mention too many clicks....

Thursday, February 16, 2006

pebble in my shoe

i am looking over my course and really disappointed as i look at my written assignments. There is no way that i can discern to create a written assignment activity where i can give the students a list of questions either in a form format or in an attached file for them to fill out. I am faced with having to ask them to copy and paste my questions into a word processor, answer the questions and then attach and upload their responses to the questions. This is extremely frustrating and the "process" interferes with my instructional objective which is to have the students do the activity AND share it... and better yet would be to then be able to discuss or ask questions of each other based on their individual assignments.

by design

some desicisions i've made:
  1. 3 modules = 3 weeks
  2. a course information area
  3. a class community area
  4. location of the panes - course info on the left. no choice about the center module/topic area. news announcements top right, participants, then calendar.
This order and locations on the moodle course homepage are dictated in part by moodle... i don't have choice for example to rename the little panes or to move the center topic area... or to put anything above that center topic area. So the tool has made me adapt what i want it to do to what it allows.

i am using the topic summary pane for the course information documents. People read from left to right and this is important first information for the students to read, but after reading through this info. it takes a less important role in the course... and i don't want it taking up the vaulable course content real estate on the front page, so off to the left is the perfect location for this... it is there, visible throughout the course so that students can refer back to it, but it is not in the way of the current cousre content and areas of course interaction.

I am using the top center pane above the topic areas as a newsflash area. I want students to feel my presence every time they login immediately rather than having to go click on something to see an announcment. I will post daily announcements in this location. So, though there is a news forum, and a news area built into moodle, I will use this area to communicate on a daily baisis with the cousre participants. I will archive these posts in the news forum so that if they are missed, the course participants can see a running archive of each of my newsflashes. In addition, the moodle news forum forces subscription, which means every one will always get an email when anything is posted in the forum... I hate that, it is really irritating to get all these emails outside of the context of the course... a listserv is vastly different in nature from a course... i don't understant why there is not the option to completely restrict course activity to the course location in moodle. I don't want emails from my course as a professor or as a student. So that is why i also created the bulletin board in the class community are of my course. It is a space for non-course related communications, and it won't force sending emails to everyone.. . my preference would have been to consolidate this area into one. So, since the moodle news forum is this forced subscription area, i had to come up with another area to meet the need of non course related communications for class community purposes. This is irritating because what this means for me as the instructor is that i now have 2 areas to tend to instead of just one and for my workload the result is more work. Another factor was that in the news forum, you only have 5 minutes to edit your post... reorgainze it, change the date... so if you are trying to set it up as a commuinity area for students it's narrow functional scope just makes that too difficult... you can't organize posts, edit them, the date posted becomes an issue, etc.

course modules follow the course manual. I organized them logically into the three week workshop modules. Loosley the content falls logically as follows: week 1 : getting started and reflection and conceptualization... week 2: learning design...week 3: course management

each module has a consistent structure. They begin with an overview of the activities for the module, followed by a discussion, followed by assignments or activities . every module also has an ask a question area and a reflection pool journaling activity. Consistency is very important from module to module. the questions asked in module one will all post to the module 1 question area... this so that i can best manage and understant the questions posted. One discussion per module. Very important for workload reasons.

its all in the design.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

no where to hide...

i discovered that there is no where to "hide" documents in moodle... i have been creating documents and organizing them in what i thought were "hidden" topic areas, so that i could hyperlink to documents from other documents so they could be displayed how, where and when i want them to only. BUT, that is appearently not possible... so i have spent the last 2 days recreating each of the topic areas to accomodate that reality... which bites.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Am i doing this right?

How do you delete test documents? for example i created a test journal entry to see how that works in module 3 and now i can't get rid of it.
I need to create some of these activities not only to see what they do but also to be able to write the instructions and create models for the students.

How do i create a multipart assignment that i can make visible to the class an assignment with multiple parts like a short answer quiz but that has no right answers and can be seen by all in the class..

How do i make the private folder activity work. I want to make a private space for me and each student. a discussion forum that only the student and i can see... been trying some stuff but it is not working.

how do i create an activity where the student find online resources and build an annotated bibliography of web links.

I am not sure i am doing things as best as they could be, but it is what i have been able to figure out... it doesn't all make sense to me yet, but i am getting better at the stuff i have been using.

how do you attach files to a page and how do you do more than one... i have these MP3 files that i want to have next to the link to the courses and i can't figure out how to do that.

also if the multipart form the way i want to use it is not possible then i am going to have to send them word files i think... i need to talk to you about these assignments and how best to do them in moodle... it is driving me nuts.

I am trying to figure out how to use this wiki feature... it is so frustrating... i don't get it.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

i can't believe i did this...

I have been working on my course since 10:30 this morning ... it is now 4 am !! ... i am so tiered that i can't even do that math... i think that is 17.5 hours straight...I have only gone to the bathroom twice and only had a small frozen lunch to eat today... i did drink a half bottle of seltzer though...

Well on the plus side, i kinda got the hang of moodle now... still not crazy about much of the rigamarole... but i can make it work... it takes lots of time clicking around... and waiting for the page to come up... that is what takes time. I have not really figured out yet how to make a multipart assignment that the whole class can see, or a self test that does not get graded, or figured out how to attach files so that students can download them, but i have the rough structure of the course in, all the course info and class community and orientation areas and documents in and pretty much the first module is done...

wow. can't believe i actually did this. Not sure yet if should go live with it in march... i will have to discuss with kathleen to see what she thinks.

time for bed ... Isa will be up at 7 and tomorrow is football day and Dora the Explorer at the Palace Theater... : )

Saturday, February 04, 2006

What am i doing?

First i created my course information documents and tried to get them laid out in a location on the moodle course map that makes sense. I am using the course summary pane for that. I am having to use things in ways i don't think they intended to get this to look and feel like i want. I don't get the long center topic thing... it gets too long...you need advanced organizers to visually chunk the information... i am still trying to figure it all out. also, they call dicussions "forums" and respond-reply and modules - topics... so i 've had to map try to map analagous features and functions. Then i started to try to outline the modules just to get a structure in... Along the way i have discovered better ways to do things... For example it is better to create a web page than to upload a file, cuz you can't edit files on the fly... and they don't contain the built in moodle page nav bars...you have to use your browser back button and you have to edit the original word file save it, upload it to the files folder, then create a link to that file... etc. with a web page you can just create it as a draft and edit easily.

I started to think about the class community areas and decided that the main pane should be used as a newsflash area... you can't move it and you can't put anything above it, so i have now also also created a table in it as a navigation bar to some additional help type resource that would be too buried course info area... i will change the newsflash often and archive them in the news forum... the way the news forum works is that you have to be "subscribed" to it which means you will get an annoying email anytime one is added, and you only get 5 minutes to add/edit anything to it, you can't change the dates so all my standard "announcement" type documents can't really go in that space... it is hugely annoying... I have had to create a Bulletin Board to serve that function... its fine. I will live with it.

The other things i have learned or decided to do are to use the topics as Modules that outline the content of each content "chunk" of the workshop. I also will have a question area and a reflection journal in each module. I have learned to hide "topics" so i am putting documents in there and then linking to them where i need them... i really don't get the label function for setting up the topic ... seems like a lot of energy for text that does nothing. I am bummed that i can't get a private discussion area with individual students easily... i am ending up using the journaling feature for that but it will be very cumbersome ... there may be another way to do this that i am missing but i am not sure. I thought i might be able to use the assignment form for that but none of the features that allow for private submission to the instructor result in the ability to reply back and forth in a forum type way... so i have to work around the private functionality of the journal to retain that needed privacy aspect... cumbersome!

I have also closed all the blocks that are extraneous and reorganized them into locations that make sense... the news is in the upper right. under that is the people block, then the calendar, then the upcoming events... you can't move blocks above the center block which is irritating... so that is why i made the nav bar table in that center block...

I created my class community module with links to the bulletin board, private folders and participant profiles. Oh, i have also begun to set up my exemplar course activity - link to a course for observation with MP3 files attached to use as side commentary as the participants tour the course... pretty cool. wish i could add more than one file to a page... will have to figure out a work around for that ... I have been figuring things out little by little in this tool as i go along...

Have i said i hate the subscribe thingy... i don't want emails from my course management tool, every time an entry is made...errrrrrrrr

Friday, February 03, 2006

podcasting for instructional purposes

I have created my first MP3 files that i will be using as supplemental resources in my online course. I plan to use them along side the exemplar courses i will make available to the workshop participants. sort of like how they make the option to view a movie with the director's comentary on DVDs... the workshop participants will be able to browse an exemplar course on their own, or opt to listen to a running conversation between me and the instructor as we tour their course and discuss the design decisions s/he made in developing their online courseand their experiences in teaching the course... i ask them stuff about the types of activites the have their students do, challenges they had, things they were concerned about, how things went, what works well for them, what they have improved, what they have learned about themselves, etc.

not really podcasting actually yet, i may just have a web page with the link to the course and the MP3 files attached, not sure yet if i will get to actually setting it up as a "podcast."

Should be cool!

time log

I am going to keep a running tab here of the time i spend on the design and development of this workshop. I want to have a longitudinal view of my development time for myself and for the participants in the workshop.

3.12.06 -
3.11.06 - 2 hours
3.10.06 - 4 hours
3.9.06 - 4 hours
3.8.06 - 6 hours
3.7.06 - 4 hours
3.6.06 - 4 hours

3.11. 06 - 7.5 hours
3.10.06 - 7 hours
3.6.06 - 8 hours
3.5.06 -10 hours
3.3.06 - 6 hours
3.2.06 - 2 hours
3.1.06 - 5 hours
2.28.06 - 7 hours
2.27.06 - 7 hours
2.26.06 - 9 hours - my first Breeze.
2.25.06 - 5 hours
2.17.06 - 3 hours - created the MP3 files with Beth and Steven.
2.15.06 - 2 hours
2.13.06 - 2 hours
2.11.06 - 2 hours
2.10.06 - 5 hours
2.9.06 - 5 hours
2.7.06 - 2 hours
2.4-5.06 - 17.7 hours - 10:30am - 4am!
2.3.06 - 7.5 hours - 5pm-12:30am
2.3.06 - created my second MP3 files with Bill
2.2.06 - 4 hours
2.1.06 - 9 hours - 5pm-2am
2.1.06 - Created my first instructional MP3 files with Rob
1.31.06 - 2 hours - orientation
1.30.06 - 2 hours
Created first blog
1.18.05 - first day - 3 hours fiddling

jezzzz louise it shoudn't be this hard

i am finding it extraordinarily irritating how things are set up in moodle...to be fair, i just haven't figured it all out yet, but jezzzzzzzzzzz! it takes a million clicks to get it to
you can't edit stuff in the forums after a certain time... what!!!??? i mean that is ridiculous... why shouldn't you be able to write, reflect, rewrite, edit... it is completely counter productive and intuitive to the pedagogical intent of the reflective written discussion activity... Especially for the instructor trying to set up activities ... i also HATE getting these forum emails every time i post something. I have turned it off where ever i can. I have not yet figured out how to duplicate things... how the heck do you move things around.... i want a questions are in each module/topic... i should be able to just create it once and then duplicate it where ever i need it...

Here are my first questions:
how do i edit the news forum after the 5 minutes has elapsed.?

how do i change the dates in the news forum if i don't want those dates to appear... i want to lay out the forum with some standard announcements... about what that area is for, how to get technical help and about (not) using email for communications...

how do i stop this thing from sending email from the news forum or any of the forums...

I know there are some standard Sloan and moodle documents in here, but i don't see them anywhere, or in the files area . Where do documents hide?

There are a bunch of folders currently in the files. i cant figure that out what they are for?

how do participants add their profiles to the people section/block?

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

my first thoughts...

so when faced with designing this course i had to consider several things:
  • how long the course will be
  • who the students will be
  • and what needs to be covered

1. The course is supposed to be 3 weeks long.

2. The workshop title is: online course development for beginners. so i have to make these assumptions to design the course and target the conent: the students are new to online teaching and learning ,they have not taught online before, this may be their first online instructional experience, they are interested in learning more about this, they may be thinking about developing and teaching an online course, or they may be asked to do so in hte near future

3. Content? I have been working with online faculty, doing research, developing a home grown course management system, working with large numbers of faculty, students, campuses, and instructional support staff for more than 10 years precisily on how to build an effective teaching and learning environment online... so i know this content... i am an expert in this...

First, there are 7 steps in my process... (i had a wonderful mentor when i first began in instructional design in the 80's who introduced me to Arthur M. Young's Theory of Process, and how he made a career adapting that theory to the fields of organization, team, and leadership development. David Sibbet is an amazing man who had a profound effect on me and the person i have become in more ways than he will ever know. I am the instructional designer that i am today because of him and because of the understanding about "process" that i learned from him and have used over the years to "understand" the process of how to "develop" effective and satisfied online faculty, that can build and teach effective and satisfying online teaching and learning environemnts. I have had a lot of success with this... and it all comes back to my seven step process...)

So, my first design delema was how do i organize 7 steps into a 3 week course... : ) As my architect would say, you can't put 10 pounds of sugar in a 5 pound cup!!

The second challenge was using moodle. Now first you need to know that i have never built a course in a CMS that i did not design myself... (one of my first thoughts was ... "i wonder if this is how my faculty feel when they open the course development application i designed for them?") i am probably unique in the world for this ...but it is none the less true... the first time i opened moodle and looked at i was frustrated like i am when i look at any of the commercial course management applications. I hate them. application developers not teachers designed them... and though they are very nice and intersting people (i have very nice colleagues that are app developers), they design from their context which starts with the technology, not the teaching...i have spent the last 12 years of my professional life (well at least 10) passionately designing a simple integrated teaching an learning environment that is flexible and designed according to my vision of what an online should do, feel like, look like, function, etc...

so, needless to say, faced with moodle, i had some thoughts like... how the hell am i going to make this do what i want/need it to do...

I also realize for the first time how tied to the my understanding and interpretations of effective online teaching and learning practices my design is... i mean i really didn't realize that... and so faced with another tool, that does not have that underlying sensiiblity, how foreign, and out of water i felt... it is very weird... i always felt very strongly that the technology was just that... a tool and that it was the practices that mattered, not the tool. i am now faced with this rather uncomfortable realization, that the tool is much more integrated into the pedagogy than i realized.

After my orientation yesterday i was so excited to get started. i haven't felt like this in years. I am very eager to get started and see what i can do with moodle. I couldn't wait for work to be over so i could get home and start to work on my course.... so here i go ...