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Posts from the ‘The Maricopa Experience’ Category

24
Oct

We’re Still Not Blogging Much on Our Campus

Yep, I said it. I’m calling out GCC and their lack of initiative to get students writing for a real audience. Part of the problem lies with the lack of tools available that are supported by the college, but that’s really just an excuse. I even heard someone say yesterday that now that Blackboard is going away, she won’t be able to have her students blog any more. Well, fear not. Blogs live on, and the fact that they are not bastardized and hidden in a LMS should be liberating. For you, and the blogs. You have free reign to choose the tool that is best suited for your pedagogical need, not what is forced upon you by technology designers who probably have never taught a day in their lives. What the LMS might be pedaling is often something trying to be one tool for every need. We all know how that works out in the end. No one gets what they really need.

But there are blogs galore available for use on the web, and most are free. There are traditional blogs, micro-blogs, and micro-micro-blogs, like Twitter. You’re bound to find something to meet your needs, and all it takes is a little patience to learn the basics. I’ll be doing a workshop next week in the CTLE on Blogs for the Classroom, November 1, 1pm – 3pm in HT2-139. Join me in a discussion about using blogs for teaching and learning. There are many uses for blogs from providing content to providing students with a method to share their thoughts and writing with you and their peers. This will be both an informative and hands on workshop. To sign up go to our web page: http://www.gccaz.edu/CTLE/cal.cfm

To hold you over until then, I created a video to show you how quickly and easily you can set up a blog and start blogging today with Blogger. Blogger is available to us as part of our new Google Apps, so it’s linked to your school Gmail account. Look at all the tools that are just one click away from your email (image above). We have tools for videos, photos, wikis, websites, and blogging to name a few. We actually have two blogging tools available to us through Google, but I’ll just show you one today. Join us on Thursday more.

Setting Up a Blogger Blog for Teaching Using Maricopa Gmail

18
Sep

I Respectfully Disagree With Your Decision to Deny My Travel Request

The very first conference I ever attended after starting work in Maricopa was the TYCA West conference. 1999 “Climates of Inquiry: Classrooms, Curriculum, Theory, and Assessment.” Park City, Utah; October 14-16. My division chair at the time suggested I go, and practically signed me up for it. I was grateful. I was hooked. Not just with this conference, but going to conferences in general and learning from others who do exactly what I do everyday. It’s refreshing. TYCA-West is a unique conference, and I’ve tried to go as often as possible over the years. It’s a small intimate conference, often garnering less than 50 participants. But it’s always rewarding, and even when I can’t go I try to help out in any way I can. Last year I did a redesign on the website for them and have helped them maintain it with backups and upgrades. It’s just what we do to help support things we believe in.

Well, last week I filled out my travel request forms and submitted all the required documents to the proper people for signatures to attend this year’s TYCA West conference in Salt Lake City. I submitted a proposal to present on hybrid course design and was looking forward to yet another awesome conference. But my excitement was put on hold when my travel request was denied. Yep, denied. Rejected. Fail! There is never enough space to write much of a justification on the form, so I didn’t think much of it and typed out a much longer justification and emailed it to my dean’s secretary addressing his concerns. Much to my surprise, it was denied again. The request to add additional wording on how my students will benefit from my travel was addressed in my eyes, but for some reason he didn’t like it. No explanation was given. So on my third attempt, I went back to what I know best. Take the required questions, dissect them and answer each part piece by piece. REJECTED for the third time. Apparently the dean or Vice President of Academic Affairs has his own ideas about what we should write for a justification for our professional growth now. I thought it was my professional growth.

It’s not clear who is denying my request as each secretary has blamed it on the other “boss.” I didn’t even get the courtesy of an email directly from the person rejecting my request. I’ve been going back and forth with the secretary. By the time the he said she said trickles down to me something is lost in translation. I have no idea what they are looking for. It’s obviously not MY professional growth activity any more. It will be what they want it to be or I don’t get to go. Doesn’t sound fair to me, and after 13 years of submitting travel requests in the district, this is the first time where my justification for wanting to attend a conference wasn’t good enough.

Here’s what bugs me the most. On our professional growth website, it states as the guidelines for use of FPG travels funds:

FPG travel funding is monetary support of any event for the purpose of professional growth that will increase knowledge, skills, or attitudes enhancing one’s role at the college.

It doesn’t say anything about “student benefit.” Why? Because that’s obvious. As I wrote in my justification, “Student learning and achievement increase when educators engage in effective professional development focused on the skills educators need in order to address students’ major learning challenges.” What those skills will be is unknown until you attend the conference and how that will directly effect your students is mere speculation. Why bother? The focus should be on my opportunity to “increase knowledge, skills or attitudes” to enhance my overall role at GCC; not just my role as a teacher. But by becoming a better teacher, obviously I become the benefit to my students. Me. I’m the benefit. They benefit from me and my increased knowledge, my increased skills and my postive attitude I will have because my administration doesn’t stand in the way of MY professional development.

To read my attempts at justification for my travel request, click here: Travel Request Justifications Denied

 

18
Sep

Travel Request Justifications Denied

In Maricopa, in order to take advantage of the available professional growth travel funds ($3500), you need to fill out a travel request form, provide all the proper documents, answer two questions and get the proper signatures: yours, department chair, travel rep and either the dean or VPAA. I honestly don’t know which one is supposed to sign off on it. The form leaves very little room to answer the two questions, so it’s literally a practice in being concise. Following are the two questions (bold) and my responses that were denied by the dean. My additional followup attempt, trying to address his concerns follows the two required questions. This justification was also denied. As of Tuesday, I have not been approved to travel. ;(

Purpose of business travel, including relevance to employee’s position in the District:

The purpose of my travel to the TYCA West conference is to directly support my role as assistant chair and eCourses coordinator for the department. Attending this conference will give me the opportunity to learn about different pedagogical practices in regards to teaching freshman composition at the two-year college. As a leader in the department, I plan to share what good practices I gather from my participation in this conference with my GCC colleagues. I will also be sharing what great things I’ve been able to accomplish here at GCC with participants during my presentation on hybrid courses.

Tangible benefits derived from business travel:

Tangible benefits derived from my travel to this conference include knowledge, strategic, networking, and team building benefits. I will learn about different practices my colleagues from other organizations are using at their institutions. That would include anything from technology tools to pedagogical practices. Attending the conference will enable me to see how other institutions anticipate, understand, and adapt to changes both in the teaching environment and in professional practice. The conference will enable me to meet professionals in similar roles and 2-year organizations on the west coast. Finally, as I have encouraged several younger faculty to also attend this conference, the conference will help build our department by providing a forum for faculty members to learn and discuss best practices, new tools, and emerging trends together.

Additional Justification requested by the dean’s secretary. This is my second attempt.

Professional development may enhance student learning through its effects on teaching practices, and effective professional development may contribute to the professional skills of participating teachers, thereby increasing the number of highly skilled faculty available at an institution. What does that mean for students and the institution? It means that I will be able to better my performance as a teacher and raise student achievement (theoretically). Student learning and achievement increase when educators engage in effective professional development focused on the skills educators need in order to address students’ major learning challenges. Many conferences that we attend give participants a variety of learning options in which to choose. Aside from the main idea, theme or major focus of the conference, no one can say specifically what they will learn and how students will benefit from this knowledge.

I could speculate and say that based on the theme of this year’s conference, “Alterations: The future of two year college English departments,” that I will learn more about the recent developments in higher education and how they are putting more pressure on two-year colleges to “move students through the system more quickly” and yet to provide “quality higher education” to some times under-prepared students. I will learn how these pressures impact development of curriculum, courses offered, textbook selection, staffing of classes, admissions policies, uses of technology in online and in-person education, as well as writing centers and academic advising. If I learn ALL that, students will benefit from better curriculum development, courses offered, text book selection, uses of technology in online and in-person classes, as well as better writing centers.

And as professional development should be reflective, I’ll be sure to share what I’ve learned with others who also believe in staying in touch with their profession.

Read More: I Respectfully Disagree with Your Decision to Deny my Travel Request 

6
Aug

Creating an Online Class Orientation (video)

Creating an online class orientation is very important when teaching online. A good introduction to your online class could make or break the course for some students. If they can manage the orientation it’s a good sign for both of you that managing the class is possible. This video shows you how I’ve set up my online course orientation for a freshman composition course based on the QM rubric standards. You can download a copy of the QM Rubric from their website.

27
Jul

The Best of Both Worlds – Hybrid Courses at GCC

Image from: tmaworld.com

Hybrid courses, also known as blended learning, are the best kept secret of all things GCC has to offer. We don’t offer many of these types of courses in some departments, mostly because students are unfamiliar with the delivery style and shy away from them. It’s a shame because hybrid courses are great courses offering students the best of both worlds. That would be the world of traditional face to face classes and fully online classes.

We all know that online classes are not for everyone. Online classes required discipline, self direction, self motivation and lots of time. Albeit the time factor is flexible in that you can “go to class” when you want and not on a predefined Monday, Wednesday, Friday or Tuesday-Thursday at 8am schedule, but you still have to be disciplined enough to get your work done. Online courses can be tough, especially if you sign up for these classes for all the wrong reasons.

Hybrid courses are designed to give a taste of that online learning freedom, but with the comforts of having an instructor available to guide you. If you don’t quite have the discipline necessary to do online learning on your own, you can rely on still having to come face to face with your instructor once a week to face the music. Hybrid courses when designed correctly eliminate the boring class sessions when you drive to campus only to sit and listen to your instructor lecture for 50 minutes. Then you turn in your homework and leave. You could have done all that from the comforts of your own home. With a hybrid class, instructors find more creative ways to “lecture” the course material, like using video or audio. The lecture could come in the form of additional reading or multimedia lessons designed for online distribution. Or better yet, you could learn by doing.

With hybrid classes, you’re still held responsible for doing not just your homework on a weekly basis, but also your newly assigned online work. The online work is not just out there for you to figure out when, where, and how to do it. It’s tied in closely with your face to face class work, and most times, if you come to class ill prepared from not doing your online work, you won’t find the in class sessions meaningful. You’ll be wasting your time. So the discipline and guidance most students crave and need is still there, but in-class sessions are transformed into more meaningful, learner centered, and fun classes.

Give hybrid courses a try. We have plenty still available for Fall. They come in many different “blends,” so make sure you sign up for a full semester hybrid (08/22/2012- 12/14/2012). If the time period is shorter than 16 weeks, you will be registering for an accelerated class and that might be challenging your first time out. Also note that hybrid courses can be one day a week (my favorite) or even two days a week. It’s like making a smoothie in the blender. You decide what goes in and how much of each (F2F and Online) goes in.

 

19
Jul

Customizing My Canvas Course Part 1

I’ve been teaching in Canvas for a year now, but this fall Maricopa is officially switching over to Canvas on 9 of the 10 colleges. Remember RIO marches to the beat of their own drum. Anyway, it has been interesting to see how faculty in the district have reacted to this new change in LMS. Most seem to be happy, but others I feel are a bit intimidated by having to learn something new. It’s really not that difficult, but it will require some time to roll up you sleeves and dig in. It will be worth it.

I’m going to start posting some random videos of things I’ve done with my Canvas courses. Hopefully you’ll find something useful that you can use in your own. This first is a quick video to show how I’ve added buttons to my Canvas class for easier navigation on the home page. Also, I wanted to add a little branding and color to the class.

12
Jul

Gmail to Gmail Migration in Maricopa

Today was go live day for Google Guides at GCC. We are switching our email from an archaic MEMO system to shiny new Gmail. All I can say is finally. I’ve been using Gmail for at least 5 years both with a Gmail address and my own domains (freshmancomp.com), so I’m very familiar with the perks. So I’ve been waiting for this moment.

My excitement was dampened a bit when the first thing I tried to do didn’t work. What? All I wanted to do was get all of my emails, folders and filters from my existing Gmail account moved over to my new Gmail account. Can’t be that difficult, right? Well, actually it’s not, but I just couldn’t get it to work.

I found instructions for moving from Gmail to Gmail here: http://www.twistermc.com/27915/move-gmail-to-gmail/ and basically it explains that you need to:

  • Download Thunderbird and set up both the Gmail account and the work Gmail account in it.
  • Both accounts would then show in Tbird and then you can just drag folders from one to the other – Easy Peasy.
But I ran into a bit of trouble:
  • The work Gmail account kept giving me an error when I tried to set it up. It said that either my username or password was incorrect. I tried both the alisa.cooper and MEID at the beginning of the email address AND I reset my password in PAT to the same thing and it said it was synchronized in MEMO.
  • I also made sure both accounts had the IMAP option turned on in Gmail.

I was stumped, so I kept playing around with it, asked everyone I knew on Twitter, Facebook and CyberSalon if they had a solution. I even called the Helpdesk. Nothing.

In the mean time, I paid yippiemove.com to do the migration for me, but I still wanted to find the answer to the problem. Not everyone is going to be willing to pay $15 to have it done for them, even if it worked great. So after a few more inquires, one of my CyberSalon pals pointed me to the MCC wiki and I found this article: Google Apps – Setting Up Thunderbird on Mac.

The information provided here was much different than the basic directions found elsewhere. The main difference was the need to input both the First.LastName and the MEID parts of the email address in the setup process. Also I had to really change my password first. Doh! Previously I had just updated it by inputting the same password in the PAT tool. Not sure if that worked, but the settings below did after I changed it.


Make sure everything matches what I have entered above and it should work.

If you want to move your filters too, you will need to do this separately, as IMAP doesn’t import/export filters. Just export/import them right in Gmail. That worked flawlessly as well. Don’t forget to turn on “Import Filters” in Labs first. Here’s how to do it.

27
Jun

FEP: Self-Examination of Three Required Areas & Two Elected Areas

For my FEP I chose to use a portfolio as means of assessment for each of the“REQUIRED,”  “ELECTIVE,” and “RELATED” areas that are evaluated. My professional blog: Freshmancomp.com serves as my portfolio and links to all the relevant parts are listed below in the FEP description. Enjoy.

To complete an FEP each faculty member must engage in a self-examination of “THREE REQUIRED AREAS”:

  • TEACHING (OR OTHER PRIMARY DUTIES).  For example, instructional or service delivery, content expertise, classroom or program management, instruction/program design. I will focus on content expertise. One of the projects I’ve been working on since transferring over to GCC is building ENG101 and ENG102 course shells and teaching guides for adjunct instructors.
  • COURSE OR PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT/REVISION.  For example, a review of syllabi, tests, and course or program content, including competencies and objectives. I decided to work on improving instruction in my online courses. The plan involves creating more podcasts (video and audio) and screencasts to provide additional instruction for students in the online course.

In addition to an assessment of these “3 REQUIRED AREAS” (RFP Section 3.5.3.1.) , “AT LEAST TWO ELECTED AREAS” (RFP Section 3.5.3.2.), and other “RELATED AREAS” (REP Section 3.5.3.3.)  may also be selected by the faculty member to review, in order to bring into better focus their full professional involvements at the college or within the District.  Examples include program coordination, research projects, department/division chair responsibilities, student activities-advising/mentoring, professional involvement in the community, professional growth, involvement/projects, professional interaction with colleagues, etc.

As a means of designing an FEP that is flexible enough to respect the broad diversity of the faculty role, a faculty member developing and implementing the plan should select ways of examining his/her performance that will most effectively describe his/her:  current performance, future goals and actions needed to achieve them, accomplishments in the professional areas to be examined, etc.  These may include different means of assessment for each of the“REQUIRED,”  “ELECTIVE,” and “RELATED” areas that are evaluated.  Examples of different means include checklists, observations, student evaluation instruments (which can be customized), student skill inventories, video assessments, portfolios, written summaries, conferences, etc.

 

24
Jun

FEP: Self Assessment of Acquisition of New Skills

In addition to an assessment of these “3 REQUIRED AREAS” (RFP Section 3.5.3.1.) , “AT LEAST TWO ELECTED AREAS” (RFP Section 3.5.3.2.), and other “RELATED AREAS” (REP Section 3.5.3.3.)  may also be selected by the faculty member to review, in order to bring into better focus their full professional involvements at the college or within the District.

This post will focus on an elected area: Acquisition of New Skills. Something about this requirement makes me want to laugh. I wonder if anyone has trouble with assessing their own acquisition of new skills. Would anyone ever say, “nah, I didn’t learn anything this year”? Just seems funny to me. I’m actually having trouble thinking about how to assess all the things I’ve learned in the past year. I guess the best way to explain it is to just say: Read my blog. Yep, for years I’ve been blogging about all the cool things I’ve learned about teaching and learning with technology.

And although I don’t blog nearly as much as I want to, I’ve managed to post 54 times over the past two year.Mostly I blog about new technology tools I’ve learned about and how I might or have integrated them into my teaching. One of my most popular series on my blog is when I blogged about saying goodbye to Blackboard. This was before we adopted Canvas. I’d had enough and figured out a way to teach all of my online classes in a WordPress blog. I blogged about the challenges and of course to benefits of taking that leap. Part 2 of that series was my 2nd most viewed post: Saying Goodbye to Blackboard Part II – Student Blogs & Privacy – 6,488 views.

I read extensively about teaching and learning with technology and follow numerous blogs online. My RSS feedreader gets used often on my phone, tablet, laptop and desktop computers. I love the Google Reader gives you stats. Check this out.

Now I’d say that is some reading. So what have I learned? I read mostly about Android, mobile learning, educational technology, and geek stuff. Below are my reading trends from the past 30 days. All but the first is related to my profession and interests in technology.

Take a look around the blog and I’m sure you’ll learn something. I post my weekly Diigo finds here as well. Essentially what that means is when I read some very interesting things or find great technology tools online, I bookmark them in Diigo and then post the best stuff here. It is continuous learning at it’s best with the system I’ve designed for myself. And the best part is it all works on my phone too, so I can take my learning with me where ever I go. Nice.

15
Jun

FEP: Self Assessment of Professional Development – Conferences & CyberSalon

In addition to an assessment of these “3 REQUIRED AREAS” (RFP Section 3.5.3.1.) , “AT LEAST TWO ELECTED AREAS” (RFP Section 3.5.3.2.), and other “RELATED AREAS” (REP Section 3.5.3.3.)  may also be selected by the faculty member to review, in order to bring into better focus their full professional involvements at the college or within the District.

This post will focus on an elected area: professional development, which Maricopa provides plenty of opportunities for, both inside and out the district. I make it a habit to attend at least two conferences each year. This year I attended InstructureCon in Park City, Utah. This conference was a great venue for learning more about the new LMS Maricopa has adopted. Many other Maricopians were in attendance and it was nice to talk to them about how their implementations were going and to see their great presentations on how they are using Canvas. It was also nice to be able to ask questions of the Instructure team for trouble spots I’ve experienced with Canvas so far. I attended many sessions, including Hack Night. But the most eye-opening experience from the conference was learning about LTI’s and how we can add tools to Canvas using them. LTI is Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) and they allow remote tools and content to be integrated into a Learning Management System (LMS). For instance, I learned that I could add WordPress blogs into my Canvas class using a LTI. Canvas has a list of current LTI integrations that you can explore for more added functionality.
Maricopa at et4online (19)The biggest professional development for me has always been my interactions with like minded individuals within the district and out. A few years back Shelley Rodrigo started a Maricopa professional development group called CyberSalon. We call it a grass roots professional development and several of us have presented about it at national conferences. Laura Ballard and I did a poster session at the Sloan C conference a few years back. Cheryl Colan from RIO designed the poster and Shelley conducted the survey.

Here is a quote that summarizes what CyberSalon is for one member.

“It’s a casual environment that is more conducive to sharing ideas with everyone instead of the information being delivered by one presenter. It’s a little like speed dating….at face-to-face meetings I can hop around the room chatting with everyone getting specific answers to my questions. I also like the group as professional development because knowledge and ideas are being shared by people in the trenches of teaching and not a presenter that gets paid for speaking to educators.”

I learned so much from the 80+ members of CyberSalon over the years. The way it works is we meet up once a month on a more social level and discuss all things related to teaching and learning with technology. Some of the meetups are theme based. We had one on Canvas and another on VoiceThread this year. We’ve also covered WordPress and gaming, but mostly the meetups are just free flowing – discuss whatever is on your mind. When we’re not meeting, some of us are blogging about technology on the CyberSalonAZ blog site, as well as our own blogs. And the meat of the group is the Google group where we share resources and ask questions of each other.

Since Shelley, the group founder, has moved on from teaching in Maricopa, several of us have stepped up to “manage” the group and keep things rolling.