Three hundred dollars isn’t a lot of money; nevertheless, this question is kind of a mute point anyway since my college doesn’t currently encourage us to be innovative with teaching and learning by offering grants. We have nothing, so most teachers do nothing. The district offers learning grants, but you can’t use any of the funding to buy software or tools, so you basically have to write the grant to pay you for your time, and then use the money you earn to buy software or tools. It’s not a very sustainable solution considering some of the tools are web apps, and you’re paying a yearly subscription, not a one time fee.
So I’m going to do a little dreaming. If I had just $300 to spend on teaching and learning each year, this is what I would buy.
First, I teach Freshman Composition and all my courses are eCourses, 4 online and 1 hybrid. In keeping with the Quality Matters standards for online courses, I try to use technology and instructional materials in accordance with the recommendations from the QM rubric. Here are the QM Standards I try to meet with the tools I select to use in my courses
- Assessment & Measurement
- 3.1 The types of assessments selected measure the stated learning objectives and are consistent with course activities and resources.
- 3.5 Students have multiple opportunities to measure their own learning progress.
- Instructional Materials
- 4.1 The instructional materials contribute to the achievement of the stated course and module/unit learning objectives.
- 4.4 The instructional materials are current.
- Learning Interaction & Engagement
- 5.1 The learning activities promote the achievement of the stated learning objectives.
- 5.2 Learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning.
- Course Technology
- 6.2 Course tools and media support student engagement and guide the student to become an active learner.
- 6.5 The course technologies are current.
As I spend my imaginary $300, I will tie in how each tools helps me meet the QM standard listed above for added benefit. I will also discuss how would use the tool to help my students meet the objectives of the course.
My first purchase would be VoiceThread. The Manager account costs $99/year and comes with 1 Pro account and 50 Basic accounts (student accounts).
A VoiceThread is a collaborative, multimedia slide show that holds images, documents, and videos and allows people to navigate slides and leave comments in 5 ways – using voice (with a mic or telephone), text, audio file, or video (via a webcam). Share a VoiceThread with friends, students, and colleagues for them to record comments too.
In my online courses I like to have class discussions to “provide opportunities for interaction that supports active learning.” Each module includes at least one discussion forum. These forums, especially when I used Blackboard, where boring, dry and full of meaningless text from students. I’ve tried for years to come up with ways to make these interactions more meaningful and engaging for students. VoiceThread (VT) is a simple answer. VT gives students 5 ways to participate in the discussion and it gives the instructor a way to focus on several different points within one discussion.
Not only can I use this tool for class discussions, I can also use it for content delivery (think boring PowerPoint presentations). VT “supports student engagement and guides the student to become an active learner.” This is so because students are invited to participate in the presentation by adding comments and feedback about their understanding while they watch the presentation.
My second purchase ($201 left) would be for GoSoapBox for $90/year for up to 100 concurrent student users. GoSoapBox is a new instant student response system (think boring and expensive clickers). It allows teachers to gauge student understanding or confusion levels throughout a lesson, poll students and track the data for future reference. It can be used on laptops, tablets and smart phones, which sets it apart from some other clicker/student response systems.
GoSoapBox is used during class to break down participation barriers, keeping students engaged, and giving teachers insight into student comprehension that was never before possible.
What I get for my hard earned $90 is:
- Student-ranked Questions
- Confusion Barometer
- Polls & Quizzes
- Advanced Data
- 24/7 Access
- 15 GoSoapBox Events
My third purchase ($111 left) would be for CreateDebate which runs for $99. I’m starting to see a trend here in educational pricing for web tools. Anyway, CreateDebate is “a user-driven social debating website which serves to facilitate discourse on topics of users’ choosing. CreateDebate combines social networking technologies with debating and voting in a social and democratic nature” (Wikipedia).
CreateDebate is an integrated and dynamic virtual learning environment that will stoke the discussion and participation in your classroom!
Since I teach argumentative writing, this site works well for getting students engaged in active debates about current events. They can demonstrate use of rhetorical devices and identification of logical fallacies in the arguments presented. This course activity and resource would be the “type of assessment selected to measure the stated learning objectives” for the course, which is to “organize writing to support a central idea through unity, coherence, and logical development appropriate to a specific writing context.” CreateDebate increases participation, promotes critical thinking, and improves the vocabulary and persuasive writing skills of my students.
So with $12 left, there’s not really much I can buy with that, so I could just not spend it. The point is for under $300 I can get some valuable tools to help me engage my students in the learning process, as well as teach them using current technologies that also teach 21st Century Skills that help students to learn to think and work creatively and collaboratively. I can see the value in these tools, so as there is no such thing as the $300 grant at GCC, I’ll probably be digging into my own pockets like I always do to fund my innovative ideas for teaching and learning. I think my students are worth it.
One of my favorite things about being a teacher is that I get many opportunities to continue my education. I feel like I’m going to school to learn just like my students. To be successful in your profession continued professional growth is a necessity and should be encouraged. Maricopa does a good job of affording us these opportunities. We have learning grants, sabbaticals, travel funds, district dialogue days and technology workshops available. We have faculty developers, instructional designers and technologists on every campus to plan, train and work with faculty. I make it a habit to take advantage of as many opportunities as I can squeeze in.
Today was a great event that I’ve been lucky enough to be invited to participate in for the past 3 years: TechTools at Scottsdale Community College. Each year I volunteer to present, so this year I was on a panel discussion on social media in education. My focus was on using social media in the classroom. We had a pretty good turn out for that session. The best part, however, was getting to listen to Jill Schiefelbein’s keynote presentation: The Human Touch. Jill, online instructor from ASU & CGCC and owner of Impromptu Guru, shared with us different strategies for uniting communication and technology for an added human touch in online classes. Her talk should be required viewing for all online instructors.
I was able to sit in on two other sessions that day: one on Canvas, our new LMS for next fall and another titled Secrets of the Technology Club presented by a virtual Maria Andersen. Both were informative sessions that I’m glad I got a chance to participate in. Five hours went by fast (8:30-1:30pm), but my day of learning didn’t end after this event. Today was also the day for the monthly CyberSalon gathering, and the afternoon’s agenda including different people sharing how they’ve been using Canvas. So after an hour hanging out with colleagues at SCC and grading papers (online office hour), we were off to CyberSalon for 2+ more bonus hours of professional growth. It was truly a great day.
It’s not realistic to think that everyday’s 6 hours of accountability can be like today, but it’s nice to be able to find a balance between teaching and learning. And this is clearly defined in the RFP. So after a week, I’ve managed to meet more than 6 hours of accountability each day and include all 3 areas outlined in the RFP.
Instructional Residential Faculty members are required to meet the thirty (30) hours of professional responsibilities per week.
- to meet all classes as scheduled;
- to hold a minimum of five (5) scheduled academic support hours reflective of instructors’ teaching schedules; and
- to participate in department, division, college, and/or district activities as defined in Section 1.2.20.;
Okay, first notice that I didn’t say Smartboards. I said white boards. I would love to be posting about the use of Smartboards in my developmental writing class at GCC, but that is not the case today. I’m posting about the technology of white boards and markers and technology use in developmental classes. I often struggle with the protestation of using technology in developmental writing courses. Some say that developmental writers are not ready to use technology and that many will struggle with the technology and miss out on learning the necessary writing skills. Others, including myself, feel that the use of technology only enhances the writing and learning experience. The debate is on going.
According to a survey of basic writing teachers across the country, a disparity exists in the use of technology in developmental programs. Reinforcing the claims of earlier empirical studies, Stan and Collins find that using computer technologies in developmental classrooms positively influences students’ attitudes toward writing and improves both the appearance and quantity of student writing. However, numerous institutional issues effect successful computer use, such as differences in the levels of technology currently available, resistance among faculty and students, lack of infrastructure, uneven access to professional development among staff, and lack of visibility for successful efforts.
Stan, Susan, and Terence G. Collins. “Basic Writing: Curricular Interactions with New Technology.” Journal of Basic Writing 17.1 (1998): 18–41.
I can say that I’ve experienced both views. Students in my developmental writing courses at SMC have been inundated with technology. They are using wikis, blogs, word processors and a course management system. The level of technology skills in those classes is broad with students coming in with absolutely no computer experience to those who have experience in basic word processing and email. Very few have experience using the new web 2.0 features like blogs and wikis. I lose a lot of the students early on in the developmental courses. Some semesters I’ve lost close to half of my students by the end of a semester. I’ve always associated most of the drops to the students fear of this new technology and have tried doubly hard to train students in the proper use of the technology. Well, I don’t feel that way any more.
I’m teaching a developmental writing course here at GCC, and unfortunately I have no access to technology in the class itself besides my shiny white boards, overhead projector from 1950, and a vcr/dvd combo and television. This of course is no reflection on the college; it’s just a this is what’s left situation. This late start 8 week course loaded with 24 students, and 20 showed the first day. The second class 15 came back, and now in the 4th week I’m down to 8. Where did they all go? It’s the same pattern I see in my courses at SMC where we have abundant access to technology in the class and out. So I’m fairly confident that it is not the technology scaring my students away. It’s the “I can’t do this” attitude that many of our developmental writers come into college with.
It’s not the technology. There is too much research out there that states the positive effects of technology use in developmental writing courses as well as the negative effects of a new generation of apathetic students. We just have to keep trying to find ways to keep them interested and to educate them.