Wednesday, April 28, 2010
I was impressed with the keynote speaker, Dr. Julia Gergits, who is a professor of English at Youngstown State University, entitled “Created in Their Image: Academic Careers Molded (Mangled?) by State Comprehensive Universities.” The presentation was very dynamic, informative, and most important very positive about what we are doing at State Comprehensive Universities (SCUs). This article was also published in the inaugural issue of the Teacher-Scholar Journal.
Quite a few students co-presented with the professors with whom they did research work, which added additional strength to this conference. It provided students an opportunity to engage in research activities guided by mentors.
It was also interesting to see what other faculty members in other SCUs have been doing. One young faculty from Emporia State University shared his way of trying to seizing all possible opportunities to do creative writing, which sounded excellent and encouraging.
All SCUs are facing many similar issues such as heavy workload with limited resources, but as Dr. Gergits said: “Responsibility is a gift, not a burden. It is prized.”
Monday, April 26, 2010
The panel shared different aspects of online teaching, with a focus on student engagement. Student engagement does not only refer to engaging students intellectually, but also socially and emotionally. Student engagement is important to both classroom and online setting in terms of students’ educational experience, but its importance and value are more pronounced in the online learning environment.
Our sharing is based on the three presences – social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive presence, which are three essential elements in online teaching. Social presence is to build personal connections, teaching presence is to facilitate learning, and the cognitive presence is to integrate active learning with authentic learning tasks. The 60 minutes passed by very quickly. It is interesting to share what worked and what did not work in our online teaching.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Idioms were one of the difficult things for me when I learned English. During that time there was not so many online resources to help me. The ESL learners in the digital age are much luckier. Below are some good resources for ESL instructors and students:
Animated Idioms include an animated cartoon with text ad audio explanations of each idiom.
The Idiom Connection inludes text explanations of many idioms that have been categorized in an alphabetical order.
The Idiom Jungle includes text explanations of many idioms with quizzes.
Thanks to Larry Ferlazzo for the useful resources for teaching.
Monday, April 19, 2010
This report made me think about education and teaching in the digital age. Do we have any skills gap in teachers in the K-12 setting and the instructors in higher education institutions? Only in the field of instructional technology and online learning, we can see a new skill set that is required for instructors who are teaching for the 21st century. Below is a short list that I can think about off the top of my head:
Course management system skills: Basic skills to utilize a course management system such as Blackboard, Moodle or Deire2Learn to deliver and manage online courses.
Content presentation skills: Skills in utilizing instructional media to create and present learning content to engage students to learn in the online learning environment. Tools may include voice over PowerPoint tools such as Articulate Presenter, audio podcasting tools like Audacity, screen capture tools such as Jing, Camtasia, and Captivate, and video creation tools such as Windows Movie Maker or iMovie.
Online Communication Skills: Skills in communicate and interact with students in the online learning environment, such as the built-in chat or virtual classroom functions in the course management system, web conferencing tools such as Elluminate and Adobe Connect Pro.
Web 2.0 Tools: A good number of free Web 2.0 tools are available for teaching and learning. Such tools as bog, wiki, social networking, YouTube, Flikre, and Twitter will help online instructors plan and develop active and collaborative online learning activities.
This seems to be a long list to some of our faculty, but my best suggestion would be phasing in technology incrementally. Try one thing each time, and add another after you truly experience the joy of utilizing a technology tool in your teaching.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Despite some additional work over the weekend, I confessed that it was a pleasure to read the three long proposals. One is about globalization and its impact on education, another is about teaching presence and its impact on student academic achievement, and the last one is about inhibitor factors preventing faculty participating in online teaching in a university in Iran. All three proposals deal with interesting topics, and I’m particularly interested in the study about the Iranian faculty in online teaching.
The study findings are pretty similar to what has been found in the research literature, including three categories of inhibitor factors such as personal factors, attitudinal factors, and contextual factors. While we constantly read about the main stream research about online education in North America, this paper has broadened my scope in this area.
What I learned is that professional service does not just add load to my task lists, but it is an opportunity to learn, social network, and reflect. A joy to serve, and a joy to learn!
Saturday, April 17, 2010
This announcement has caused lots of heated discussions recently. Many Ning users have started to look for alternative social networking tools.