otl301 Post 6 A summary

Best pic of meThe most important lessons I gathered from the course were having the chance to learn and use WordPress and to see how one might implement it in an on-line course. I also liked the readings provided and the opportunity to see how a course like this was actually structured.  It was logical and flowed in a thoughtful progression.

My thinking has both changed and stayed the same in some instances. I’ve always believed in the importance of social connection in learning, this course certainly buttressed that belief.

WordPress provided the opportunity to include media and to comment on other people’s posts. I liked that the possibility was there however I received no comments so that highlighted a problem with how that works in actuality at times. I did however see a few posts from previous registrants which were helpful.

Reading the chapter material and then being asked to reflect and answer questions was useful for me. Having a structure and seeing where I was in the course was also very helpful.

As for ideas to use in my own practice, I will use a picture and quick bio of myself and have students do the same, I like the idea of voicethread so people can hear their colleagues’ ideas (and their voices) and I like the notion of pairing people up to work and be accountable to one another if they wish.  Peer reviewing is also something I could use.  Additionally, as Vaughan et al. suggest, video introductions to the course environment and short tutorials on difficult course concepts or problems really help students. Finally talking about one’s experience with the course material as an instructor and encouraging students to do so also makes a demonstrable difference in student engagement. I plan to be a facilitator and not take over discussions. I like the idea of other learners taking charge of that over time.

otl301 post 4 Interview

OTL301 – Post 4

I actually don’t know anyone who teaches continuous entry or open enrollment courses on-line, they all teach paced on-line courses. The course I will be teaching is also paced.  As a result, in order to find out what I needed to know, I turned to the internet community. Interestingly a google search returned very little. Maybe this is a parallel experience to being in a continous enrollment course?

A blog by an ESL educator in an open enrollment face to face course suggested having students be clear about course goals and having one student who had already been in the course mentor another.

An article by Yates (2008) outlined the issues in face to face language classes in Australia and stated that students liked the flexibility, teachers found it difficult to cope with but that overall it was a good strategy for this group. “Criticisms centre on the significant interruptions caused to classes as teachers bring new students up to speed, the almost inevitable disruption to classroom climate and dynamics, as well as the headache of planning class activities for a constantly changing cohort.”

Bates (2010) suggested a clear structure, schedule and opportunities to meet other students. He also proposed waiting until a set number of students wanted to join so that they could be a smaller cohort going through the course. In that way social cohesion could be encouraged and discussions would benefit from more than one voice.

Paris and Turner (1995) talked about how choice, control, collaboration, challenge and consquences can be used to motivate learners.

Digital tools such as voice thread could be used, in this people actually discuss what they think verbally and then others can join in and comment asynchronously (brokansky.com).  Blogging using word press is another way to reach outside the LMS as is using social media such as Twitter.

I then turned to the professional literature and did a search for articles. Again little turned up, Chau et al. 2013 discussed how threaded discussions, a beloved tool of on-line educators may not be as useful as hoped for and tended to leave people in the exploration phase of discovery.

I also asked students in a recent class I taught face to face, how many had taken an on-line course and what they thought of the experience. Some were in continuous enrollment courses and cited their busy lives and lack of obligation as being barriers to the experience. This suggested to me that they weren’t adequately socially connected in the course.

I also looked to see what other people who are taking this course said. No-one in my cohort has yet posted which again seems to parallel the experience of being in continuous intake! I did look at a previous post by chaque who referenced a blog in 2015


The ideas Ron Smith discussed such as having a small cohort start together, discussions and prompt response to emails as well as using peer feedback were useful suggestions.

I still wonder how effective continuous intake can be at building social communities of inquiry. I see the clear downsides and how isolating it could be for students and instructors!



otl101-post5 Reflections

I liked my post “So what have you learned?” I liked the picture I used and the fact that I was honest about the learning journey I’m on.

The two or three most important ideas from this course were the notion that feedback is an even larger piece in helping people learn than I realized. It also was striking that as teachers we’re often not on track when we give feedback.  I found the SOLO taxonomy very useful too.  While I used active verbs to describe learning objectives in the past, I never knew that it came from this taxonomy!

I am wondering how best to give students from communalistic backgrounds better feedback.  I will do some more reading and talk to peers about how they do this.  Additionally, I am thinking about how best to incorporate higher level thinking skills. I will look at what I do and see how it fits with those categories.

Specifically I will use pictures and video/audio clips when I teach.

I will add more higher level cognitive activities in my course.

I want to find out what feedback works best for my students and will survey them to get feedback.



I’d say on the whole the feedback I give is at the first, second and fourth level. Much of my feedback is specific and students state that they understand where the course is going. However, I am certainly guilty of using self-feedback and was interested to see how relatively useless that is. On the other hand, it is mostly paired with specific marks on a rubric so students can see where they went off track.

I think in order to improve effectiveness I need to address the needs of collectivistic and individualistic participants. I also need to focus on  helping students learn to self-regulate by highlighting the strategies they use that are successful.

otl101-Post 3

I looked at the course outline for the psychological assessment course I will be teaching.  Students are expected to identify, differentiate, characterize, analyze, define, explain and implement a plan, prepare a report, demonstrate relevant skills and integrate the material.
Learning outcomes seem to, on the whole, reflect high level cognitive skills.  The course also has some lower level cognitive skills such as identifying and defining. These are useful as building blocks for higher level skills.
Student learning is assessed through discussion with colleagues, 2 quizzes, a test critique/presentation, case study and a final project which is a self-report.
The learning outcomes and assessment appear to be well aligned. Students will have to identify and explain their thinking in discussion groups and in the written assignments they prepare. They will also have to analyze, explain and demonstrate their skills in the case presentation, case study and self-report.  The self-report requires that students integrate course material and apply it to a real life person-themselves. These three activities in particular include a number of high level cognitive skills that are either relational or extended abstract in nature.
The quizzes are a small part of the final mark and they too are aligned to the learning outcomes as they require students to identify, describe and define.  However, they mostly measure unistructural skills.
Two of the course objectives that seem to limit students to unistructural or multi-structural responses are:
  • Define concepts related to psychometrics and statistics involved in instrument development, reliability coefficients, variance, standardized and converted scores (T-scores, z-scores), validity, and measures of central tendency.I would add to this: Apply these concepts and illustrate how to use them in a self-report.
    • Define assessment as related to counselling and describe how it is part of the larger counselling process.I might add to this; justify your use/non-use of a formal and/or informal assessment in a given case study.

otl301 post 5 Reflection

  • Did you engage in each of the phases of the critical inquiry process?

Yes, oddly enough (I feel suprised in retrospect although I don’t know why:) I did pass through each of the phases of the critical inquiry process.

  • Were you able to resolve any problems or dilemmas?

Because I haven’t taught fully on-line before and hadn’t used wordpress, I learned some of the wordpress basics which was useful. Also reading the course material really helped clarify the issues and how they could be resolved. I also found other useful links.

  • What might you do differently in a future course?

I will make sure to get students as socially engaged as possible by being human myself, using bios, working in pairs, and using the suggested facilitation skills.

  • How might you engage with your students to ensure that they are working through the entire inquiry process?

Checking in with them to see how it’s going, making sure they post to discussions, monitoring what they’re discussing to see if they’re on track or floundering, noting common misconceptions on assignments or reading material, having a balance of facilitating, direct instruction and letting people engage with the material even though they might be initially confused.

  • Do you think that working through this course in an open platform like WordPress helps to encourage reflective learning?

I’m not sure if the platform encourages it as much as the structured activities do. Knowing that others can read one’s posts is useful to keep you accountable and also to see what it’s like for learners in on-line courses.

otl301 post 3 Designing aligned learning experiences

The learning outcomes are for a graduate course in psychological assessment.

  1.  Outline the steps required to perform an ethical formal psychological assessment in a setting of your choice with a child, teen or adult.
  2. Critically analyze the reliability and validity of a given psychological assessment and outline its suitability for use with clients from diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

Some learning activities for outcome #2 could be:

First reading the relevant course material, listening/viewing a case example that the instructor works through and then submitting a case study where the learner critically analyzes the suitability of a test they’ve chosen for a client from a diverse linguistic and cultural background.

otl301 post 2 What has changed?

How have my views of effective practice changed now that I have read more about teaching presence?

The first piece of teaching presence: design of the course, is at least initially out of my hands. I hope to be able to add some aspects to it but as I haven’t seen the course yet, am unsure how that works.

However in the second part of teaching presence; facilitating discourse. I can see more clearly how important facilitating discourse is and liken it to facilitating group process but in written form. It gives me a template to work from.

Anderson et al. (2001) make a strong case for the last piece in teaching presence; direct instruction. Any reservations I had about inserting myself and my expertise into the conversation were relieved.  I liked the notion of introducing personal experience, links etc to help further learners’ knowledge. It was a good reminder about the importance of scaffolding.

Using these TRU On-line teaching courses as examples of effective practice show some great practice as well as some shortcomings. On the good practice side, the course design is excellent. As for facilitating discourse, there are requests to read other’s posts and to comment but there is no facilitation by the moderator.   If one is off track, there is no instructor feedback. (I understand that this is the nature of this type of course).

Direct instruction is modelled by providing links to relevant material and the course is scaffolded by building on previous instruction. However the personal experience and feedback from the instructor are missing.

Including moderator facilitation of posts and direct instructor feedback would have made these courses even more effective.

otl301 post 1 Teaching presence

I think the most current example I can think of are the courses in this introduction to on-line teaching. This reminds me of other times I’ve Best pic of mebeen engaging with new information. At the beginning, it’s a bit of a mystery how it all fits together but as time goes by and I engage more deeply with the material, I start to see how it all fits.

What makes it an effective practice for me was to see the visual guide at the beginning of each module which showed what was to be covered. Additionally it helped that the material was broken into small steps. I also liked that you checked off when a portion was completed, this was reinforcing and another visual reminder.  It helped that there was a definitive structure and a place to look for help.  Looking at other posters gave me ideas about other ways to approach the courses.

As for doing it over again, it might be helpful to have video/audio links in the course.