M5 Activity: Assessment Strategies

I plan to conduct an assessment every Friday.  The assessment will contain three parts: the first part will be asking students for feedback on pedagogical strategies for that week.  That is, students will be assessing how well the different online asynchronous and synchronous activities worked for them.  The second part of the assessment will be a formative assessment tool so that I can gauge how well they have mastered the material and achieved the weekly goals.  In the third part, I will ask the students to do a brief formative self-assessment.  I want them to reflect on how much work that put into the course that week and how well they think that they have met the course goals.  I also want them to identify any difficulties that they have encountered. My main concern about constructing these assessments is that the students might get grumpy if they are too long.  I guess I’ll have to include a question on the assessment tool for this (“How grumpy does this assessment make you?  Very grumpy…Somewhat grumpy….Not grumpy; positively giddy…”)

I plan to create and post rubrics to assess their class assignments and activities.   My strengths lie in creating rubrics and assessment tools that engage concrete technologies and tasks.  I see opportunities for improvement in creating rubrics and assessment tools for the more complex/abstract cognitive tasks that I want the students to develop.

Online Teaching: Gotta Love It

I’ve always loved teaching.

Yet, I also know that expectations regarding the classroom (and my role as teacher) are changing. When I arrived at Emory some 20 years ago, I mostly made use of chalk on a blackboard and overhead projectors – with course packets of readings photocopied for the students. Those days are long gone…

I expect that the things that have worked well for me in the past will continue to do so. Effective teaching strategies will still be effective. However, I also know that, in moving to online teaching, I have to develop new skills and strategies. It won’t be enough for me to coast along on what’s worked in the past.

Online teaching will obviously be a challenge. As the readings demonstrated, I have to adopt more roles than I did in the past. In fact, designing the syllabus for this online course requires me to think in a quite different fashion – as when I structure asynchronous material in 5 to 10 minute chunks (rather than an hour and a half lecture) or when I encourage student involvement and discussion while not in the same room as them.

Of course, there’s a bit more work involved in setting up my first online course, but that should make me love this course (which I’ve taught for years) even more.


M2 activity: Motivation and challenge of teaching online

The overwhelming majority of students who take my human physiology course intend to apply to medical school.  In order to complete a medical school application, these students are asked to complete a number of academically challenging and time consuming prerequisite classes, score well on the MCAT, and at the same time juggle volunteer, shadowing, and research experiences.  Offering human physiology online provides an opportunity for students who cannot be on campus during the summer to focus on and complete one of their many courses outside of the traditional school year.  I am motivated to teach online because I feel this approach specifically addresses the needs of many of my students.  Also, online education, in one form or another, is a trend that is unlikely to go away anytime soon.  I’m excited to learn more about how to do it the right way and have the opportunity to try it out this summer.

The main challenge that I face in design of an online human physiology course relates to the generation of meaningful discussion material.  The content of this course is not easily amenable to many of the suggestions typically provided in the literature, for example, debate.  One good practice involves solving a problem, however, if there are only one or a few possible answers/approaches to the problem, won’t the first few students arrive at the answer(s) allowing the remaining students to passively copy their work?  Perhaps student answers to discussion problems could be revealed after a set period of time, allowing each student the opportunity to arrive at their own conclusion.  I will continue to look for good examples of discussion practices in similar courses.

The Pleasures and Perils of Online Instruction: Module 2 Blog Post

Teaching in an online environment will allow me to stay current with the change in education, and compel me to adopt a more learner-centered pedagogy.  The online course is also affording me the opportunity to develop materials for a more learner-centered pedagogy using state-of-the-art tools.  This will benefit my in-classroom teaching as well.

I anticipate two challenges: 1) having all of my time devoted to teaching the course this summer.  I am particularly concerned about the additional grading time that online instruction appears to take (according to the readings).  I strongly dislike grading…2) developing effective asynchronous activities for each lesson.

The quote by Moore and Kearsley, 2012 (cited in Lin, Dyer and Guo) summarizes the time-consuming activities in online teaching that I hadn’t considered:

“Simply making a video podcast presentation or putting lecture PowerPoint material on a Web site is no more teaching than it would be to send the students a book through the mail.  As well as presentations of information, at least as much attention should have been devoted to finding out each individual’s need and motivation for learning, giving each individual the opportunity for testing and practicing new knowledge, and for receiving evaluation of the results of such practice” (p. 136).

M2 Communication Exemplar guide

Module 2 Communication Exemplar Prompt:

After reading and researching about Managing your Online Course, take a moment (or two) to reflect and describe what motivates you to want to teach in the online classroom. In what ways do you believe you will be effective and impact student learning in this medium of teaching? Next, write down one of the biggest concerns or challenges you think you will face when teaching online. Describe how you will address the concerns or challenges. 

When making your initial blog post, select the appropriate categories for your post.  One category will be your name so that your contributions can be easily searched.

EFOT 2014 Course Evaluation

Hi Leah,

I have included links to THREE rubrics that I used to provide a course evaluation. I found it fascinating that each one was not quite adequate on its own. I will be curious to know whether looking at all three helps to paint a clearer picture! I wish I could have annotated the pdf, but I don’t have Acrobat at home. Most of my less than stellar ratings/comments were due to Bb itself. I was able to explain this on the Quality ScoreCard rubric. Also, I felt that some of the questions didn’t seem to apply or I didn’t quite know how to answer them, so I left them blank. That in itself will be useful to you, I think!

What a great experience — as I mentioned in my eval, I Ioved the Scholarblogs to connect and communicate with the other participants, and receive encouragement/support and ideas. I enjoyed trying out the new technologies in a safe and supportive environment. I can’t even imagine how you handled all the back-end work you had to do to keep up and trouble-shoot, etc.

Lot of work. I hope I take the time to re-read and absorb and synthesize all the readings. Thanks for providing those.

I gave a ‘show and tell’ to my colleagues as per my director’s request. They were enthusiastic.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the rubrics I’ve included. See you soon,







M8 Checklist

Colleagues, It’s been a pleasure learning from you (and Leah) this summer. Thank you.

I’d like to offer one more resource. Below is a link to a checklist that I will use to be sure my online course is as accessible as possible:  http://webaim.org/standards/508/checklist

I’ve also contacted Emory’s ODS to ask those wise folks what they recommend to faculty teaching f2f and online courses, but after a week of nagging still have not heard back. I imagine this is a busy time of year for them. Whenever they reply I will send along their suggestions and resources.

Hope to meet everyone f2f next month. David Jenkins

RE: UDL Uncompromising Directives by Phyllis Wright

Hi Phyllis,

I didn’t see a way to leave a comment on your post, but I did particularly like your focus on the ‘why’:

My goal is always to engage the “why” first in face to face or online, then “what” and finally “how.” With teaching or leadership, unless I can convince my followers to follow me, then the rest is simply unimportant.

If there is one take-away that I think is most important, it would be this one. So many times I’ve focused on the ‘what’ — the content or the activity. But with the focus on the ‘why’, I think how these align with the learning objectives so the learner clearly understands and hopefully becomes more engaged, and how I can provide multiple means of expression, engagement and representation.

I am reassured that instructional design is an ongoing, iterative process — that my courses are not ‘supposed’ be perfect and static, but that revisions, tweaking, changes are natural and expected!



In the Home Stretch with UDL


The Recognition Network: Learning about UDL has been liberating: I now know why to include images rather than just text in my PPTs (I thought they were unnecessary decoration or ‘cutesy’); why my colleague almost always includes a visual (screen) during a talk; why my screen now will have a great deal of white space; and why I choose scholarblogs to organize course content with attractive design. These strategies will hopefully provide multiple means of representation so that the ‘recognition’ network is engaged.

Affective Network: I’ve had difficulty in the past justifying pair work/ small group work if the task was a means to an end rather than an ‘end’ (a measurable and assessable outcome) itself. However, the result of  this quiet and directed work often surprises me — students become more engaged in and animated about the topic, thus completing the resulting measurable task with satisfying success. This is just one example of how important it has been for me to understand the ‘affective’ networks by providing learners with  multiple means of engagement.

Strategic Network: I am also surprised by how engaged learners can become by interacting and expressing their knowledge and ideas via various media such as scholarblogs, and the level of commitment to an activity when they can choose to submit an assignment via either audio or video, the latter of which adds engagement to those who are the leading-edge techies. Even providing time for quiet individual work now has my attention: it provides students with multiple means of action and expression. I will be aware to give students more choices regarding how to demonstrate their knowledge and learning: audio, video, f2,  ppt presentations, pair work, discussions, quizzes, (yes, some love quizzes!) etc.


Some of the strategies outlined in the Faculty Focus article “Improve Accessibility in Tomorrow’s Online Courses by Leveraging Yesterday’s Techniques” has made me aware of some very do-able strategies to improve the accessibility of my courses:

  •  break videos down to smaller chunks
  • use alt tag for images
  • images should be informational rather than purely decorative
  • provide closed captioning for videos
  • use ‘flat’ navigation – limit number of clicks to access information
  • avoid pronouns — I actually applied this when I created my instructional video in s-o-m.:)
  • write succinctly and concisely! (ok, let me go back through this post and tighten it up) oh well, I tried. It would take a much longer time to do this!

My brain is flooded with ideas and information. But, the key points that stand out for me is ENGAGEMENT — going back to the very first graphic of the Triad, and FACILITATING – I now know what frustrations my students may feel and some strategies to response to and ease them.

I have treasured learning with you all!


Course Evaluation


I have learned so much from this course.  When I have evaluations of my courses, I think I would rather have open ended questions to find ways of improvement.  If I have a large MOOC, I’m sure I would use a similar rubric.  Leah, Thank you for being patient with me during this process.  The biggest takeaway is that I won’t be as mean to my students when things in their lives happen.  Being on that side of the situation, I realize how much it impacts your work.  Look forward to seeing you in the flesh in September.

David K.