Tuesday, April 5, 2011

My Final Blog

It's over! four tough semesters and boy did I learn allot.  This has really been quite the experience.  It started out as an adventure that I thought would be fun and exciting and turned in to an adventure that was more work than I ever thought possible.   I learned so much about computers and what they can do. 

September 13,2009 I wrote my first blog and as I went back and read through my blogs I began to reminisce.  I remember writing:

"Well, I now understand what my students mean when they say their brains hurt after class. My brain is really hurting—it’s on overload. This is really a computer intensive course and I will know about my computer by the time I finish this course of that I am sure. I have never taken an online course and I’m learning very quickly that there is a lot of reading, going to various links, and being dropped by the online provider while I am reading or thinking."

That was quite the experience.  Just trying to even figure out how to blog I thought was going to cause me to have a computer meltdown.  Then we began putting our courses together in the later courses.  I was so thankful that the first couple of courses got me through all the understanding of teaching online and understanding the technology available.

As I proceeded into the 3rd course and began putting together the design of my online course things really came into perspective.  There was so much available to make the course my own; I would put my personality to the course.

I have learned terms or as I call it a new language in these courses like, Wiki, Wimba, Blogging, Google Docs, Wetpaint, podcast and buffering.  Even the HTML language, which I still struggle with.  I know why students do enjoy learning a foreign language.  Just when I thought I had been through it all I entered this last course...

I can't believe I ended my last blog with... So, as I begin this last course in this online teaching journey I look forward to the challenge and the excitement of putting digital content to my online courses.  Let’s go Digital!!!!    What was I thinking??  Well now I am at the end of the course  and I have designed a multimedia presentation, put the first 3 lessons together and made so many modifications to the course.  It took hours and hours and hours and.....  I could keep going but I am sure you understand.  First I didn't like the way I sounded and then I was at war with the technology. Then I didn't like the way things looked.  Of course there was the I have to be perfect piece and the constant tweaking.  My lap top almost was out the window of the 4th floor.  But, I survived.  I have attached the multimedia presentation for your viewing at the top of the blog.

Another thing that I learned is that a sick computer is really frustrating.  This has been a tiring time to get programs to work, open and compose.  My computer was in the computer hospital twice during this last class for at least 2-3 days and boy did that make it hard for me to complete assignments.  Technology is only as good as the one working it and the age of the computer.  This has really taught me patience and the need to back up.  The final out come from the checkup was hard drive with "plaque build up" causing inability to "circulate information" properly or in other words I need new computer.

The entire process of putting together these first 3 lessons in our course was really a learning process.  I have decided to use much of this in my course for fall.  I will have to transfer it to moodle and hopefully it will work.  I'd really like to add a podcast to each lesson.  Of course the final answer is YES! I will continue to teach online and improve my classes, maybe even design another one to teach online for our program.  Maybe even do a few more multimedia presentations; after a good rest or vacation. 

I really can't believe how much I have learned as I look back and how much more comfortable I am with the online learning environment.  But I really believe it is time for a vacation.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My online Course

Well, here I am my last class and the final designing of my online course.  I am presently teaching a very basic format of an online ADN 212 a medical/surgical theory course with a clinical component.  This will be a hybrid or blended course.  The course ADN 212, Essentials of Nursing II will have the theory portion online with the clinical portion face to face in hospital settings.  These are third semester nursing students in a four semester program Associate Degree Nursing Program.  The course will last eight weeks with four hours of designated theory and two 6 hour days of clinical per week. Endocrine disorders, basic cardiac disorders, select respiratory disorders, renal failure, male and female reproductive disorders and sleep disorders will be the topics taught in this course.

Having this course online will be beneficial to our students because most of them are single, working, mothers.  This will allow them to receive an education and enter into a profession, still being able to maintain their family responsibilities.   I feel that having courses offered online as well as face to face offer students options in their academic program.  This I hope will allow students to have a more flexible schedule and be more involved in their learning.

Go to fullsize imageI am also doing this for a selfish reason.  I am looking toward retirement in a few years and hoping to do some online teaching in nursing while I can enjoy retirement.   More and more colleges are going to online teaching and this will also make me more marketable in the future. 

Go to fullsize imageSo, as I begin this last course in this online teaching journey I look forward to the challenge and the excitement of putting digital content to my online courses.  Let’s go Digital!!!!      

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Technology...The death of me

Well, now that I have retyped all my blog posts to this new site, I think technology has finally gotten the best of me.  But, yet again I will conquer this technology beast yet.  With one more course to go I am determined to win the battle.

 Between blogging, the final paper and all the work in course design I am ready for a short break.  Not to mention in the middle of all the finishing work my computer had to go to the computer hospital for 3 days.  It is having some real problems with its connections.  Hopefully I will have a new laptop for next semester.  I have learned to back up my entire computer.  Well onto my blog topic—course design.

This has been an enlighten course as I look back over the semester.  I have been teaching for many years and just taught as I was taught with tweaks here and there.  As I attended conferences I learned about different learning styles and different ways to teach my nursing students the information.  But, as I proceeded in this class and had to tease out all the pieces of setting up a course in a chart or worksheet format I really learned about course design. 

First there was the student to content issue.  Knowing how my students were going to interact with the content and what content I wanted them to interact with.  I had done this but never really thought about it.  As I read the literature in that lesson I learned some new ideas about student learning and why that interaction is so important.
Then there were the student to student interactions.  This was also an enlightening area of learning.  I had had my students work in groups and teams before because that is part of nursing.  I felt it was important for them to learn to work with others in order to survive on the floor.  Reading
NAVIGATING THE BUMPY ROAD by Richard Felder and Rebecca Brent
I learned that “It's not that SCI (student centered instruction) doesn't work when done correctly-it does, as both the literature and our personal experience in two strikingly different disciplines richly attest. The problem is that while the promised benefits are real, they are neither immediate nor automatic.” This is so true.  When I have students do their presentations or group projects they really learn the content.   They may grumble and complain but they seem to gain that knowledge at a much higher level. 

Dr. Roger Schank stated "The value of the computer is that it allows kids to learn by doing," he said. "People don't learn by being talked at. They learn when they attempt to do something and fail. Learning happens when they try to figure out why."   I always felt this way but now I had someone to support my thoughts.  I was never one to enjoy being the sage on the stage it was just how I was taught to teach.  I was really a rebel in the college with wanting to have students play games to interact with the content.   

With these two concepts in mind I found it hard to keep them separate.  Throughout my design process I would put the student to student in the student to content and vice versa.  Thank goodness between Jan and my peers who were reading my worksheets and giving me feedback I was able to begin to keep them straight.   I think I now know- I think- the way to keep them separate but, I am sure I will need more practice in that area.  I am just glad I know have validation for all the interactive activities I do with my students in the hospital setting, lab, classroom and in the future online courses. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Third course and technology still causes me trouble

Orginal Post:  October 31, 2010

Note:  I have been able to retrive my orginal blogs.  Therefore, I am cutting and pasting this blog into my old blogs.  I have decided technology will either kill me or I will conquer it.  Sorry for the sites that do not open now.
Technology--It is giving me a headache. I have been in and out of my blog many times as a matter of fact for the last 2 classes and the begining of this one. Then I go to enter again and it wouldn't accept my password! Of course the only way to get the password is they email it to you but, my blog in made with my old email address that I have no access to anymore, lovely. So I had to restart my blog because no one knew how to get it going again.  Now that I have digressed from my orginal blog... I shall begin again
In my previous blog I said “you can’t eat and elephant whole or it overwhelms you”.   As we have proceeded through this course we have been building our lesson design piece by piece that statement says it all.  I remember seeing in the first lesson the design process in a graphical format and thought to myself this is really going to be a huge undertaking.  Then as the weeks progressed and we began to build the course it made sense.

Just like building a house, we built the foundation in lesson 2.  We looked at what course we wanted to put on line, who would take the course and the constraints or considerations.  This really was an important part of the course building as in a house if this isn’t well done it can really cause problems—your house falls or your course fails.  The need for all my constraints to be addressed as well as the concerns was really important as I began developing my online class. 

Writing the objectives, developing assessment strategies and breaking down the course into units seemed to fall into place –once I knew what to put where.  In looking at my constraints I could see that many of them were out of my control and I really had to be creative to work within them.  This was true of the many college mandates that accompany an online course, such as the syllabus is approved by accrediting bodies therefore without college or department approval changes cannot be made.  The changing from out dated webct to Moodle for a management system is something I must work with even if I don’t like it and last that there is no money available to purchase the use of wimba or any other enhancement to the course.  But thank goodness for free site$.   

Then there was the learner issues, this was a really interesting and really gave me food for thought or so to say.  This was an entity that I had not realized was so interesting.  One of the readings in this course for this topic was Teaching Every Student in the Digital Age:  Universal Design for Learning this was an interesting book by Rose and Meyer.  In chapter 2 they talked about brain differences and the research done on learning.  I didn’t know that there were 3 interconnected networks to receive and analyze information the strategic, affective and recognition networks.  As I read this I thought of a person with brain injury or a stroke and why we see different relearning taking place depending on the damage.  The whole processing of information being so unique to each one of us and that is why learning has to be more than when I was in school.  I thought of my son with the learning difference, he is dyslexic audio and visual, but has a verbal score that is gifted when tested.  These chapters we read really had me thinking about the various media that is available in online teaching and how much more a student can learn because of this. 
The use of technology is really growing and growing rapidly.  I can see
more and more happening in the realm on technology.  We use Skype  
and can have conversations in a learning environment with people in  
different parts of the world.  We can watch surgery as it is being perform in the confines of the classroom or in our home via the computer.  Today’s students want the information now, they are very techno savvy. I think of my son who is a college sophomore and realize he was never alive without computers and cell phones. If we are going to be good, no great educators of tomorrow’s society I think we really have to look at the world they live and learn in.
I know for my courses discussions of various types is something that really gets the critical thinking going.  I encourage the use of outside sources not just their text book and try to introduce them to web sites available.  As they challenge me in learning the new technology and learning to teach within it I will also challenge them to perform at their highest.  Who knows what tomorrow learner issues may be?  But, for know my main one is learning within the technology

Eating an Elephant or Online Course Design

Original Post:  September 5, 2010

As I sit here typing and look back over the last 2 semesters and the beginning of this semester I never thought I would learn so much in such a short time. Now as I begin what I anticipate is the longest and most difficult semester yet, I am sure my brain will hurt from all the information going in. After I read the syllabus, orientation, goals, and perused the first couple of learning modules I felt really overwhelmed. Then I remembered what I tell my students when they tell me they are feeling overwhelmed, “you can’t eat an elephant whole”. If you eat an elephant a bite at a time you are able to eat the whole elephant and digest it properly. So, I’ll have to keep reminding myself to take little bites and it will all work out.

Then I began thinking about the first class and how worried I was that I would be able to do well in the course with so little computer knowledge. I remembered in the first class learning about pedagogy and how different yet the same it is for online and face to face. Being a nurse first and an educator second I really had not been taught the in-depth information on curriculum development, good pedagogy, and learning theories. I never realized that there were so many web enhancements I could use in the classroom. My nursing education taught me how to teach my patients but not how to teach students and I have found there to be a big difference. My computer skills have also improved. I could type on the computer but did not have really good computer skills. My sons still laugh at how I did not understand that a mouse didn't have to eat cheese; it was attached to the computer. When I think about it, I have learned so much. I had heard about Blogging but never even seen one and here I am creating one! Now I even have an electronic portfolio! Who would have thought I would know this much about the technology available to me if you had met me only a few semesters ago. I can even enter a Wimba room and present a lecture in a Wimba format. With all this knowledge I now know why my brain hurts.
Learning and doing have really been beneficial to me. I designed and presented my first Wimba session and then facilitated the discussion on that presentation. At first it was very uncomfortable talking to a computer and not seeing faces which was really hard. My peers gave me some great feedback that helped me to make improvements for the next time I had to do a Wimba. Then, we were given an opportunity to do a second session and I did it and felt much better. I still have a hard time listening to a session, let alone presenting and not seeing faces. I am so used to face-to-face classes.

In a face-to-face learning session, community is always developed because we see each other on a regular basis. But, in an online setting, we don’t see each other and I did learn some great ways to develop community. I also learned how important community is to online learning. I really do believe having taught face-to-face for many years, that I will be able to utilize what I have learned applying it to online teaching. Then be able to add all the new ideas and concepts I am now learning through this online course and develop a stellar online class for my medical surgical students. As I begin designing my online course, all I have learned will be put to the test. I have the course I want to design but there will be constraints due to the accrediting bodies that oversee us and the inability to change the syllabus in any way. I also see constraints in the online tool my college uses. At this time we are using an outdated WebCT and in a year will be going to Moodle, which I know nothing about. I can only hope Moodle will be an improvement but no one seems to know how the system will work.
With that being said, I also realize that I could develop a course that has some really great student to student and student to content interactions. This will be an improvement over face to face settings. Usually in a Nursing classroom, the instructor puts up a power point and speaks to the slides as they appear. There isn’t always time to do a lot of interaction between the students and content. I think in an online course within a discussion section there can be great learning occurring as students respond to each other and work in small groups on a topic. This will be a great way to see if the students understand the content. In the past I would put my course together by just looking at what the syllabus contained and then developed the lecture using the text book, teaching plan and power points that came with the book. Over the years I began to use other text books and enhanced the power points and now include materials from other sources. Through this course I am beginning to learn how to develop a true teaching plan rather than using basic outlines and objectives and am looking forward to that portion of the course. Learning how to write course objectives and goals, and present the content creatively will especially engage students to learn. This will make them want to learn and not just do it for a grade. I also want to learn the difference between an online and a hybrid course and what truly makes them different. I realize a hybrid course has a face-to-face component where an online course does not. I want to learn the difference between the two course types. In the course I have chosen to design, all the didactic will be online and the clinical portion will be face-to-face. During the clinical settings I will only meet 8 students, while the rest of the students are with other clinical instructors. Therefore, I get to know the other students  in a cyber world only. So I think this course that I will
 be taking should be an interesting and overwhelming 
way to learn all this information. But, I am only going
 to eat my elephant one bite at a time. 

Halfway through—Part 2

Original Post:  Sunday March 14,2010

I can hardly believe we are half way through this class.  Part two has been a very interesting set of lessons.  We began with learning about pedagogical roles and models, benefits of the virtual classroom, and the pedagogy of a web site.  One of the readings was by Dr. E.L. Skip Knox The Pedagogy of Web Site Design.  This reading discussed the various parts of putting together an online web class.  Dr. Knox shared his experience on developing a web site course in humanities.  Having taught for 6 semesters he felt he had enough experience to share what he had learned with others who wish to teach online, I found the article interesting.  I learned about the online lecture being more formal in writing so that there is no misunderstanding in what you want to say. He also talked about the basics --consistanency, clarity, navigability and speed.  The need to keep what you lecture on clear and concise, there is consistanency in the presentation of the information so that the students can easily navigate the site with efficiency.  I also found as I researched this topic -it was my facilitator topic- information on adult learners and how they learn. It was very interesting and since I teach at a community college it was something that I was interested in.  These adult learners want something that is useful to life, they learn best usually by doing and discovery of information.  I know I use my experience as a nurse when I teach my students in theory and in the clinical it is the floor nurses and me that are used to create that community of scholars for them to draw good learning from.  I learned I expect adult learners to be more engaging and sometimes they just seem to sit there and then; I really have to be careful not to just tell them what I want them to know.  I learned from these reading that I need to not probe and prod them to get the discussion started. but to interject questions that will start the discussion.

Another topic in part two was building community.  This is real important in an online community since the students will only have contact online and not face to face.  So it is important that they feel a sense of belonging to the group and not feel like they are learning in isolation.  I learned that I do this in my face to face classes and my enhanced class with a letter I send to my students at the beginning of each class session, in the way I begin the class be making sure the students get to know one another and work on at least one group project.  This social development is very important in nursing since we need to really work as a team in order to help a person reach their optimal health or to have a death with respect and dignity.

Units 7 and 8 I learned about setting up for an online course and how to run an online course.  These were very interesting units.  Some of the information was not new to me but some of it was. What wasn't new reaffirmed my own ideas and thoughts on items like turnaround time for grades, answering e-mails, and discussion questions.  I also had affirmation on what I needed to have set up in the site to have a well managed course i.e., calendar, syllabus, expectations and discussion question.  This was really helpful as I was setting up and enhanced site for this next 8 weeks that begins March 15th. I am sure I will learn allot by the time I finish these next few weeks on online learning even though it is enhanced.

Technology!! What an overwhelming topic.  There is so much out there and how do you get through it all and make sure it is appropriate and worthwhile.  This unit really had me in a tail spin. I did find a web site that had standards and guidelines for being an online teacher which I found interesting.  In nursing education we have standards we have to address for our accrediting agencies and so I just felt that the same should be for an online teacher.  I guess I find it difficult to say someone is an online teacher when they have not even taken an online course let alone and any courses work in teaching one.  I have also learned the need to keep up with the technology that is available to online teaching and be knowledgeable in it in order to assist my students in having a successful learning experience.

This whole part 2 has been overwhelming and yet a real learning experience. I have drawn lots of good information that I plan to apply to my enhanced course this 8 weeks and the online course in the Fall.  Now as I begin part 3 I hope to learn more about online teaching.

I am a survivor

Orginal Post:  March 1, 2010

I am a survivor!! I facilitated my first unit and lived to tell about it.  This was quite the experience preparing for the presentation of the material and then loading it into Wimba –the right way.   I was a nervous wreck wanting to make sure my presentation was interesting, informative and a good learning experience for my peers.  I get nervous lecturing to my face to face class but my peers is really nerve wracking. 

I read my material, looked for an interesting topic to present on and then began the presentation.  Putting together the power point was interesting as I was trying to make it interactive and a little humorous.  I always feel that humor in the right place makes learning more fun.  I will share one of my pictures with all of you here.  This is my favorite Inspector Gadget.

had practiced my presentation and felt ready to go, I opened to my class and the Wimba site 15 minutes early, I even had time to have a little conversation before the presentation with my instructor, I was going to be OK.  THEN it all fell apart.  The other students started to arrive and I was ready to begin and my ability to be heard was gone.  The computer froze. I froze. I raced to the desk top and began to open up my class on that computer and realized my power point was on my lap top.  So back to my lab top I ran and shut down and restart. Now I had to reopened the course and get back on Wimba.  I was sure I had been gone for hours and everyone has just left the Wimba room.   My heart was racing, my hands were sweating and I thought I was going to just…. I don’t know.  Then the course came up and everyone was still there, they didn’t leave and I could start my presentation.

Well, what a start to giving your first Wimba facilitation presentation.  I felt that I had interesting information and had presented it in an informative and interesting way.  It just was difficult talking into a computer and not seeing anyone looking back at you.  Then there was what I call “dead space”.  When you ask a question and you are waiting for an answer or ask someone to do something and waiting for them to complete the task.  The part of me that is the formal and demonstrator wanted to jump in and take over but, I had to remember I am the facilitator and that for me is hard.  I tend to just want to do and get it done.  Being a good online teacher I think is being able to let them do some of the teaching their self and not doing it for them.  I really have to work at this part of online teaching. 

My asynchronous part of facilitating I felt went real well.  I was able to respond to each person at least twice and keep the dialog going in a rich learning environment.  This part of facilitating is easier for me than the synchronous portion.  I don’t have the same feelings to want to jump in and take over here I am more apt to allow the students to respond back and forth and just put in food for thought.

I must admit this has been an interesting exercise that I really need more practice in if I am to do this on a regular basis.