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Archive for January, 2012


Tuesday is for On Campus Teaching

I have a hybrid learning community class on Tuesdays. Yes, you read that right. It’s a learning community with ENG102 and CRE101, and my class is hybrid (Tuesday only). The class meets without me on Thursdays for Critical Reading.  So I’m in class from 10-12:45pm on Tuesday. First for my own class, and then for Cindy Ortega’s CRE101 class. I haven’t team taught in many years, although it’s a stretch to call it team teaching. It’s really more collaborative teaching, but it’s working really well. It takes a lot of time to get the coordination down and to see the connections in both classes, but it’s helping to sit in on both classes. I feel like I’m being schooled with all the active learning techniques Cindy whips out each day. You’d be surprised, or not, at how close the two classes are aligned. I’m surprised we don’t have more learning communities like this one.

Cindy and I have scheduled collaboration sessions on Thursdays, but we’ve been doing a little extra touching base on Tuesday mornings before class. I have an office hour from 9-10am, and as anticipated, I don’t get many student visitors (0 so far), so this time doesn’t go to waste. We went over some things for class, and I created a Pop Quiz in Canvas. I wanted to see if the students were doing their scheduled online class activities. Days like Tuesday are easy for accountability. 9-10am office hour, 10-12:45pm in class, and 1-2pm I’m in the Writing Center helping students with writing assignments if they don’t stand me up. I’m still there even when they don’t show up or sign up, which was the case on this Tuesday. By the time I make my way back to my office, check in with a few people, it’s 3pm, and my 6 hours of accountability are fulfilled.

You don’t think I went home do you? Of course not! The people I work with like to talk. I swear I spent an hour trying to convince a colleague that it probably wasn’t appropriate for me to go to the national TESOL conference, especially since I didn’t even know what TESOL stood for. I have to say it was a good sell, but I declined. Since my Monday schedule was off, I still had to make up the two podcasts for my online courses. I whipped out the Week 3 Weekly Podcast for my ENG102 course with a few brief interruptions, mostly people standing in my door with surprised looks on their face, followed by “You’re here. What are you doing here?” Hey! I work here. Well, I’m trying. And I can take a hint.

At 5pm I decided it was time to go home, as I appeared to be “the last man standing.” And it seemed like an appropriate time to leave work. Not sure why, but Tuesday was a cool “8 hours of accountability” none the less. I’ve got an overage of 3.5 hours. I wonder if there is any way to cash in on that on, say Friday. Hmmm….

Read More in this Series


Crazy Mondays – Project 6 Hours Accountability

The first two weeks of the semester are just crazy, and there is no way I want to write down all that I do to make my courses successful during that time. It’s just too much work. So week 3 seems more like a better place to start to give people a picture of what it is like to teach online in Maricopa. I like to think of my Mondays as online days. I don’t want to be bothered with meetings on campus or any other work related stuff that doesn’t directly link to my teaching. If I had my way, I’d stay home all day and work in my pajamas on Mondays, but I don’t have my way. So here’s the run down for Monday of Week 3.

At 8:30am, I logged onto Canvas on my home PC and started grading my ENG102 online assignments. They had two assignments due on Sunday by midnight. One was an assignment uploaded to Canvas; the second was an assignment completed in Diigo. I worked for 2.5 hours grading those assignments. The Diigo assignment takes more time because it’s not a traditional assignment. I have to check 10 bookmarked links per student. This is a double class (2 online in one) with 42 students. I was able to finish grading both assignments in 2.5 hours only because not all of the students did both assignments. During this process, in Canvas, I can send out messages to students who didn’t complete the assignment, reminding them that they can still do it for 10% off. I try to make these messages sound encouraging – “You can do it. Don’t give up.”

I also answered emails and a few text messages during this time. This is the hardest part to keep track of. Well, actually Google (Gmail/Voice) does a great job of keeping track of all the emails and texts I get from students, but for me to actually put a time on what I spend responding, that’s difficult. I’m going to go with a straight 1 minute per text, and students never send just one. There’s always follow up, and of course, I don’t want to be rude, so I always respond back with “You’re welcome” after they’ve thank me for being so accessible.

Moving on the the afternoon. I had a 12pm Hiring Committee Meeting on campus, so I sat around and reviewed internal applicants for the technology training position on campus until 1:45pm. While doing that, I answered two emails and 1 text message from students. We shall call this double accountability.

My normal Monday morning usually includes creating Weekly Podcasts for all 4 online courses, so I spent from 2-5pm doing that in my office at school. Since I was at school, I used my iMac to create video podcasts for ENG102/CRE101 hybrid and ENH295 online using iMovie. I will have to do my ENG101 and ENG102 online classes tomorrow morning, as I ran out of time. Campus is a ghost town after 5pm.

So let’s talk about why it takes my 3 hours to create to video podcasts that are between 5-8 minutes long. At home I could probably do it in 2 hours, but here, well my door is open, and people come in. It’s very social at work, so I’m interrupted several times during my process, and it takes time to get back into the editing flow. I don’t mind, but it takes time. If my job paid me for my time to do my job, I’m sure I’d be required to close my door and shut the world out so I can work. Also the network on campus is slow. The time it takes to upload a video to YouTube seems like it’s double.

Monday: 7.5 hours of accountability

Read more in the series:  Project 6 Hours Accountability – New Blog Series


Project 6 Hours Accountability – New Blog Series

There’s been a lot of talk in the district recently about faculty accountability, especially on my campus (GCC).  Some of the talk is positive, and some could be construed as negative. There is the belief that with the change in the way we deliver instruction that our hours of accountability might also change to meet the needs of our new teaching and/or delivery method. On the other hand, some interpret 6 hours as 6 hours of face time on campus, preferably in the classroom and your office. So at GCC we formed the new Faculty Roles & Responsibilities Committee to discuss issues of  equitable faculty committee assignments, hours of accountability, and office hours that reflect the needs of our students.  In the most recent meeting the committee tried to clarify faculty adherence to the Residential Faculty Policies (RFP). I’ve been in the district for 13 years and I’d never even read the RFP, so I didn’t have much of an opinion at first. But after I started looking at the way I teach and work within Maricopa, I could see how people might not see how I meet my hours of accountability. I decided to spend this semester exploring “6 Hours Accountability” from the view point of a fulltime online/hybrid instructor.

To start, I read section 5.4. Accountability/Professional Responsibilities in our RFP. Riveting stuff. It begins:

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.;

First, where does 6 hours a day even come from? Someone for sure made that up. I think the RFP is easy enough to understand. Meet all classes as scheduled does not designate a location, so an online class is online 24/7. If I go online and teach my class on a daily basis, I’m covered there. I’m sure “daily” will come up at some point, but for now it’s a skip. Holding a minimum of five scheduled academic support hours seems easy enough, but it’s the next part where people have had trouble: reflective of instructors’ teaching schedules. So if I teach online, that should mean I can hold online office hours or if you teach a Monday, Wednesday, Friday schedule, your office hours should be on MWF. That’s how I read that. But then this statement is added:  “All faculty shall meet their hours of accountability/professional responsibilities within the parameters of the day program as defined in Section 1.2.3. unless initially hired under different circumstances or amended by mutual consent.” This means that all office hours and other activities should be done during the day; I presume 8-5pm. That really doesn’t apply for all faculty, although I do hold online office hours in the morning and at night. Should we ignore the fact that many of our students work during the day after class and study at night?

The last part is my favorite. Maricopa is a big district, and why should we limit ourselves to just one campus when we can be involved anywhere in the district. Hey, the RFP supports that: participate in department, division, college, and/or district activities. So who’s job is it to keep track of everyone? The person assigned to me would have to request of weekly agenda or follow me on Twitter. I’m pretty sure that’s what my Department Chair does.

This spring 2012 I really want to explore this notion of “6 hours of accountability” in Maricopa. I’ve been lucky that my Department Chair respects the faculty in her department enough to let us do our jobs and not lay her interpretation of the RFP down with expectations of what she thinks we should be doing. She expects that we will do our jobs and honor the RFP, and most of us do. Hey, I can’t vouch for everyone. The blog posts in this series (Category: 6 Hours) will demonstrate not only how teaching has changed, but how our responsibilities to our students and our campus have also changed. And most importantly these post will reflect how this new approach to teaching may not fit in with what some people are used to in their interpretation of the RFP.


Black Out: Writing about Real Issues in Composition Courses

This post was initially posted on the Glendale Community College Blog on January 18, 2012.

In the ENG102: Freshman Composition courses I teach, I require students to write argumentative essays on topics about personal freedoms. I do this because I find it a perfect opportunity to not only teach the competencies of researching and writing arguments, but also because it gives students an opportunity to learn more about issues that affect this country and them personally. So many students live in a bubble of apathy, concerned only about the little things. This often shows up in my classes when it’s time to choose an issue to write about. But I want them to think bigger. So I’m writing this message to my students and all students currently in writing courses.

There is so much going on in this country right now. Today. Stuff that will affect every one of us, yet most Americans are ambivalent or apathetic to the world around them. We often wonder how some of these controversial laws were passed in the first place or we complain about the current government. I always ask, “Did you vote?” “Did you read the propositions before you voted on them?” It’s scary how many have not done either, and you, my students, are the biggest offenders. Two years from now, or even sooner, you’ll all be complaining about censorship of the internet because it will have changed, and the internet won’t function the way it does today. It will suck, and you will hate it. But today when you could have made a difference in the decision, you didn’t even know about it. Or tomorrow, you may be detained, interrogated and prosecuted all without a trial – effectively stripping away your right of habeas corpus. And again, your personal rights were stripped away without your knowledge or even a chance to react.

Could you have made a difference then? Can you make a difference now? Who knows, but at least trying gives us hope, makes us aware, and gives us the power of the people. And that is what education is about, giving students the opportunity to learn about the world we live in, but also how to be a participant in this world, in our country. For Freshman Composition, this is why we learn to write, so we can have a voice. Once you graduate, you’re never going to be asked to write a comparison/contrast essay again, but you’ll have plenty of opportunities to write your representatives to argue your position on a new bill. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to write an argumentative blog post, like this one, to share with others the injustices of the current legislation or a proposed bill. Writing, and writing well, gives us a voice.

So instead of wanting to research and argue trite issues like abortion or the death penalty, wake up and pay attention to what’s going on right now. The National Defense Authorization Act passed recently by President Obama puts a damper on your precious civil liberties. Do you care?  How about SOPA? The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) could effectively change the way the internet works today. People on the internet are reacting. What do you have to say about it? Sounds like a great ENG102 research argument paper to me. By the way, don’t bother searching Wikipedia for information on any of these topics because today, in protest to SOPA, Wikipedia and other internet sites have gone BLACK. Check out the screencapture from Wikipedia for today (Jan. 18th and again on Jan. 23 Only). Find out why.

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