Monthly Archives: January 2015

Week 2- Pinkney

As an educator, I realize that to stay relevant in my field it is imperative that I am knowledgeable about online learning. With the increase in people acquiring bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees without ever having to step into a classroom I believe the academy, and the professors within it, must change the way we think about teaching and learning. Also, as a teacher educator (I teach teachers how to teach children) I think that learning these skills will benefit the teachers that I teach; thus benefiting the students that they teach. I am not sure if I will ever be where Leah is and be able to teach others how to use this technology, but I am excited to know that it is available to assist in the learning process.

In reading the article by Ragan and Tehegeen (2003) I was surprised, and pleased, to learn that much of their recommended strategies for workload management in the online environment were the same strategies that I suggest for beginning teachers. For example, they found some of the most effective strategies were “identifying and acquiring existing learning resources, establishing and distributing reusable templates, providing the course author with a sample online course, providing students with specific instruction for assignments, applying project planning and management methods to the course development process, etc…” In teaching future educators, I advise them of the same exact things. First year teachers are told to “beg, borrow, and steal; don’t reinvent the wheel” and use lessons that are already created and available online or through other resources. We also encourage the use of rubrics as they provide a manageable way to grade lots of assignments.

Admittedly, the article by Van de Vorde and Pogue (2012) really resonated with me. I have somehow allowed myself to believe that online teaching results in increased workload for the teacher. My best friend attends Devry, a popular online university, and it seems to me that she actually does more work (I use this word “work” to mean labor) than the students who attend classes I teach at Emory. I wonder if the professor, who is on the other side of her work, is working that hard, or that much, as well. I am just not so sure. Still, the world of online teaching is alluring and is in many ways quite sexy. I am drawn to the idea that I can teach classes and travel abroad, or simply be out of town visiting my mother. Does it get any better than that?

My experience with VoiceThread was odd. I was uncomfortable and I felt clumsy. I hope it didn’t sound that way to the people who listened to my VoiceThread. I felt it was an anomalous, one-sided, way to have a conversation and, because I had not yet seen the faces or heard the voices of the other people in the class, I had no idea who I was talking too. I’m not Catholic, but I imagined that is how I might feel in the confessional booth…who is on the other side of the wall and what are they thinking about what I am saying? I am recognizing the need for Face-time, particularly in conversations with new folks who have not been introduced to me in any other way.

Aubrey Buster – M2 Motivations and Concerns in online teaching

My motivation to want to teach in an online classroom is threefold. First, as many have already noted, online teaching is an expanding sector of academia, and so I would like to be equipped to participate in that in a constructive way (and not just because the times dictate I have to!) Secondly, in my field of theological education, the student body in the US is decreasing, while the demand for quality theological training is increasing to the South and East. While some face to face interaction is valuable, I believe, particularly in the training of clergy, enabling students to complete the majority of a degree online increases the availability of this knowledge. Finally, I would like to be proactive in exploring the possibilities of online teaching as a young scholar, instead of being forced to “learn a new language” when my department decides to move classes from face to face to online platforms. I hope that this “pre-thought” will be beneficial to my future students.


As deNoyelles et al (2014) note, teaching presence is crucial to a successful online classroom experience. In my previous roles where a great deal of communication took place in asynchronous communication environments (online discussions; email; etc.), communication has generally been successful and maintained a consistent relationship between teacher and student. This was always balanced, however, by in person interaction, whether in the lecture hall or in the types of spontaneous interactions that can take place when you share a campus space. This translates into my area of concern, shared by many, that it is difficult to communicate the engagement with and excitement for the subject matter that proves so beneficial in my own teaching. Online classrooms require that the student generate the enthusiasm for the material themselves, whereas in the classroom, the shared focused space can serve to make the instructor’s enthusiasm contagious. This is also an issue with the required responses necessary to gauge student participation. In a classroom setting, you can ask a question if you have one! In online classrooms you are often required to continually respond in several ways. Some students benefit from this, while this translates for some into “busy work.”


One way that I am hoping to address the above concerns is through exposure to technologies that best mirror the in person learning experience. Spaces such as voice thread allow for video and audio communication, while adobe connect can mimic (in some cases, and barring the always present technological difficulties) a conversational space. Both of these are spaces where the instructor can model engagement and create the kind of infectious enthusiasm that should happen in a class! In relation to the second concern, several of our readings have referenced the importance of transparency in communicating the learning objectives associated with activities. This might help to reduce the student’s sense of the more frequent small assignments as “busy work.”

Mackenzie Bristow – M2 Reflections

I am interested in creating online material to provide learners with more flexibility, give me the opportunity to flip my classroom, and finally to consider my audience beyond the US.  Here at Emory, many of the learners who attend ELSP are also pursuing their PhD or are research employees.  It would benefit them greatly to have certain activities or whole courses online so they do not have to travel to attend class.  Additionally, I would like to spend less time teaching certain grammar or organizational points and more time practicing and using them when we have time together. I believe those focused lectures could exist online with ease.  Finally, it cannot be ignored that much of my population is not here in the US.  I would like to reach learners all over the globe and assist them with academic English.

I think there are a few areas that I can perform well taking my experiences into consideration. In Van de Vord and Pogue (2012) instructors reported feeling surprised at the amount of time needed to deliver student feedback within the online environment.  For me, this is the norm. Within my field instructors to provide focused individual feedback on almost every speaking and writing event.   Each learner will experience variations in their language development, and as the instructor we must respond in relation to the language objectives set forth in that particular task. Although we do not fix all the grammar errors, as you might imagine, we may spend an hour on one paper addressing organization, word choice, tone, and clarity.

An additional instructor concern, illustrated in Lin and Dyer (2012), addressed student survival and learning capacity within the online environment.  Understandably this thought has crossed our minds as we experience our own learning curve within this course.  Interestingly enough, we are experiencing firsthand the solution proposed in Lin and Dyer (2012) where the online instructor is omnisciently present though the “Ask the Instructor” discussion forum. As learners we feel assured and supported though this simple feature. Other factors such as the video tutorials and exploratory phase of the curriculum allowed us to smoothly move into the online learning space. Personally, I hope to pull from my skills in scaffolding information to achieve a similar structured environment where students are successful.

I also see opportunities to create dynamic experiences though Content Based Instruction.  This method of creating curriculum has been in the ESL field for a number of years. At its core, curriculum is developed so language learning is facilitated through an extended topic.  It would be useful to create a content based course focused on technology. This would provide the framework to address some of the technical needs of the students and give rise to simulating topics as the course progressed.


An area of concern for me revolves on my reliance to spontaneously address misunderstandings. Although I could articulate my appreciation for tutorial videos and discussion forms above as a learner, I still feel concern as an instructor.  Lin and Dyer (2012) illustrate this reality when describing the role instructor’s play beyond simply delivering content. This general description rings true when I reflect on how aspects of non-verbal feedback, empathetic movement, and paralinguistic sounds ( i.e. the verbal sounds or tones we add to convey meaning) pay a role in a successful language learning classroom. This is in addition to the overwhelming literature on the importance of social interaction when learning a new language.  Solutions for this may include heavy use of tools like Voicethread and Adobeconnect.  Google hangouts might also be useful tool as students could see when other learners were around so they could work together.  I can also imagine the a chat function being very useful with lots of positive feedback from the instructor on a regular basis.

Lin H, Dyer K, Guo Y. (2012) Exploring online teaching: A three-year composite journal of concerns and strategies from online instructors. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration15(3).

Van de Vord R, Pogue K. (2012). Teaching time investment: Does online really take more time than face-to-face?. International Review of Research on Open And Distance Learning. 13(3). 132-146.

Joseph Drasin – Reflections on M2

My motivation for online teaching is largely one of practicality. As noted in the Lin and Dyer (2012) as well as the Van de Vord and Pogue (2012) piece, online learning is expanding, and this is especially true for adult learners. Since most of my teaching is to professionals and academic adult learners, I need to be where my audience is. As I mentioned in the VT thread last week, I spent the fall taking a course in pedagogy vs. andragogy, and it really was fascinating. Many of the concepts in that class are applicable here. If you’ve not read any of his work, and have any interest in adult learning, I high recommend reading some of Lindeman’s (1944; 1945) work.

What I think has made and will hopefully continue to make, me successful at online teaching is being able to engage my students in a manner which bridges their academic and practical interest. I do this by expressing my passion for the subject, the practical value of the subject matter, and why they have a vested interest in engaging in the topic. I was very drawn to Fink’s (2003) taxonomy (though he does not like that word) in which the driver of a teacher is not simply to impart knowledge, but to create a desire in the students to continue learning about the topic after the course. If you’ve not read his book Creating Significant Learning Experiences, I recommend it.

This drive for purpose becomes even more important in the online environment which the students tends to be more self-motivated and self-guided. Fortunately for me, the subjects I teach professionally and in the classroom tend to be ones which lend themselves to this. Be it leadership, organizational change, organizational development, being able to show students how these are more complex social and psychological dynamics, but also ones which can greatly help them understand their workplace, relationships, and themselves. I truly believe that the role of a managers and leaders is a fiduciary one, and so I have a strong desire to impart these concepts on my students, and I think they pick up on that.

One of the areas of concern for me is not the time factor, which dominated the readings, but rather how to maintain this level of engagement and passion which one can establish more easily face-to-face. I think the VT posts we did helps some with this, but as I mentioned, I don’t think this is necessarily sustainable as a primary means of collaboration. In addition, the asynchronous nature removes some ability to effectively work together and synthesize new ideas. As an instructor I need to be much keener at picking up on queues of student engagement, be it the frequency or verbosity of their posts or other means. This is something I would really like to hear about from others.

While writing this, I starting thinking about the concept of an online classroom, but in a more permanent sense to reflect the brick-and-mortar classroom. I think it’s great that we have a once a week meeting to meet “face-to-face”(ish) J However, I’ve thought about extending this to having a permanent open A/V conference space where students can go at any time and meet up. Almost like a lounge in the dorm, they can hang out there while they work and other students may be there and collaboration may serendipitously occur.

Another challenge (I know you said one) has plagued every online class I’ve taken, and that is one of organization. I’m not sure if it is a reflection of the software quality, but in every class I’ve taken it’s been an effort to be aware of all the activities and assignments. Some classes have almost felt like a treasure hunt to make sure there isn’t some important note in some hidden corner of the virtual classroom.

Joseph Drasin

Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lin H, Dyer K, Guo Y. (2012) Exploring online teaching: A three-year composite journal of concerns and strategies from online instructors. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. 15(3).

Lindeman, E. C. (1945). The sociology of adult education. Journal of Educational Sociology, 19(1), 4-13.

Lindeman, E. C. (1944). New Needs for Adult Education. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 115.

Van de Vord R, Pogue K. (2012). Teaching time investment: Does online really take more time than face-to-face?. International Review of Research on Open And Distance Learning. 13(3). 132-146.

Bob Mocadlo

I’m afraid that given my lack of experience, my post will not be as long or well-researched as Daniel’s!  Regardless, I think my primary motivation to teach in an online classroom is the flexibility to learn anywhere, anytime.  I’m very interested in the idea of a flipped classroom; given that accounting (especially introductory accounting) tends to not be very discussion-based, it would be nice to have the ability to post lectures for students to watch at whatever time is most convenient for them and to use the normal in-class time to work on problems and answer questions.  In addition, students’ ability to engage in asynchronous questions/answers via online forums would allow for students to answer other students’ questions.  And, of course, there’s the advantage that lectures may not need to be updated from semester to semester, saving preparation time as well.

Given what I mentioned, I think that these methods will help students to learn because it allows for more interactivity between the students and the content (e.g. quizzes during or after the lectures, more sophisticated ways to interact with visuals than simple PowerPoint presentations).  Linking the course content to real-world content would also help make some of the topics we cover more relevant and timely.

The biggest challenge that I see with online teaching is ensuring that students do not collaborate or cheat on assessments, given that there is obviously no way to observe them while they are doing these.  Having the quizzes draw from a pool of questions and/or having more assessments in the classroom might reduce this problem, but it may reduce the hoped-for effectiveness of online assessments.

Daniel Dever-Week 2 Improving Your Online Personality and Improving the World

The reason that I am interested in online teaching and conveyance of information is the potential to reach and interact with a vast audience. When I say interact I do not mean just presenting accumulated and my knowledge on a specific subject for consumption, but also to learn from and gain unique perspective from an expanded universe.

An example of how online teaching has both transmitted information and also led to improvement in many lives can be found in the field of pediatric cancer treatment.  Doctors in university or research centers who treated or researched pediatric cancers were members of one of two distinct groups, namely the Children’s Cancer Group (CCG) and the Pediatric Oncology Group (POG). Membership in one of the two groups was mutually exclusive as the two groups were rivals for patients and research money. In addition, which of the two groups the doctors belonged to was determined by the institution they worked for, not by the doctor’s choice. Since there was little or no collaboration between CCG and POG until research was published (i.e. many months or actually years after studies on drugs or treatments were published in peer reviewed medical journals), research and treatment doctors were unable to accelerate research and/or treatment thinking and methodologies of fellow researchers in a “competitive” group. Further, it is easy to conceive that many collaborative discoveries were not begun or consummated because of the man-made division between the groups.

With the advent of online courses and teaching, both CCG and POG set up virtual classrooms and courses to teach both in medical schools and to practitioners at treatment centers “new” (or augmented) treatment methods, research protocols, and drug combinations and results.  Almost by default, knowledge was spread much faster than in the past as individual members of each group could be “in class” and thereby learn from the “competitor” group.  Online learning also promoted collaborative effort (and therefore results) as CCG and POG researchers and practitioners who were working on the same pediatric cancer could collaborate and accelerate the learning curve in the fight versus that particular pediatric cancer.  In fact, this sharing of information led in some degree to the eventual combination of the two groups into one – and increased the usage of online teaching and learning by the new consolidated group both within the group and in a university setting.

Easing the suffering of children and changing medical treatment are lofty goals that I do not know that I can claim for my reason to entertain online teaching. However, the principles of combining the conveyance of information with increased learning and idea collaboration toward a type of result for both learners I am teaching and for me, like the principles in the CCG/POG example, is my driver.  In my chosen field of organization change and corporate governance, I can use my education, experience and updates on accepted practices to teach, learn and collaborate through online education: the result of which could be increased or extended employment, augment to the health of organizations, and improvement to what we receive from organizations.

A major challenge to achieving my goals of combining the conveyance of information with increased learning and idea collaboration toward a type of result for both learners I am teaching and for me in online teaching will be overcoming the preconceived idea that business and finance are dry and/or boring.  This perception is somewhat more difficult to overcome in online teaching as one has to stretch, make the content relevant, and inject some “personality” into one’s online persona. The personality or personal presence factor is one of my major strengths in a traditional or face-to-face classroom, institutional or individual setting.  Achieving the same level of personal interaction or personality (hence keeping up a level of interest) may be difficult to achieve in online teaching. In my pursuit of improving my “personality” in online teaching I came across an article which I hope I can assimilate into my practice when teaching online. I include an excerpt of it below because maybe it can be a boon to my fellow learners and instructors.

Specifically, in an article published in October, 2010 in Online Education, Errol Craig Sull not only states that injecting personality is possible in online teaching, but is actually essential. (Sull has been teaching online courses for 17+ years and has a national reputation in the subject, writing and conducting workshops on distance learning.) In his writing Sull states that, “Online instructors are hired because they are judged as having the right combination of education, teaching experience, content expertise, and professional accomplishments. But once an instructor is in the classroom, these abilities and achievements can go only so far. There also must be a constant injection of personality.” Sull offers practical suggestions “for conveying a positive, supportive, and enthusiastic personality. Establish a friendly and inviting personality on day one of class . . . your personality on day one can be examined, experienced, and revisited throughout the course. Thus, any postings on day one that speak of you must convey that you care about the class, the students, and the subject, and that you are looking forward to the course and are eager to help your students. Never confuse personality with teaching strategy. One can have the right—the best—teaching strategies ever created, yet a bland or dull online personality can make those teaching strategies nothing more than two-dimensional. Once those strategies are sprinkled with heavy doses of an upbeat and just downright nice personality, they truly come alive—and the students will react in a more engaged manner. “

Sull’s suggestions are:

  • Sometimes you may need be an actor who wears the right personality. Your everyday, “Hey, this is me” personality might not be the one that is right for online teaching, and that’s fine…as long as you can play the role of an online instructor with a great, enthusiastic personality for your students (as well as your online supervisors, support team, and colleagues).
  • Students take their lead from you—the way you come across to them will determine just how engaged and motivated they remain throughout the course.
  • Use your interest in the subject to help build your online teaching personality. You were selected to teach your subject partially because of your academic and/or professional expertise and interest in the subject, so share it with your students. Beyond what has been prestocked in your course, you can add articles, pictures, essays, cartoons, interviews, YouTube (and the like) snippets, and factoids that add richness and depth to your subject. The students will immediately know you really are “into” the subject, and your excitement and enthusiasm for the subject will spill over to your students.
  • Control knee-jerk reactions. Students can write or do things that get us upset. And we can make egregious errors in our hasty reactions to these student mistakes and oversights that may not only cost us our students’ respect and rapport, but possibly our jobs as well. So hold back—take some time before you respond, and if you don’t have the time—such as in a live chat, a phone call, or a video conference—always remember that your actions and reactions are not merely yours but also the school’s, and because you are the instructor you are always held to a higher standard than your students are.
  • Be careful of your vocabulary choice. Each of us has words we use on a regular basis; they are part of who and what we are, and they often simply pour out. But our online courses demand that we pay special attention to the words we write, the context of those words, and the perception of the message we are trying to get across. Once posted, our words will live on throughout the course, and thus we must focus on the vocabulary we choose.
  • Help your personality come alive with audio and/or audiovisual. Today’s technology allows us to get closer to our students—and lets our personalities really shine through. Skype, MP3, Twitter, Facebook, Jing, Adobe Connect, Prezi, Wimba, and other tools can take us to our students in an audio and/or visual way and thus allows students to see and hear an instructor who is excited, enthusiastic, caring, and dedicated to his or her students, the subject, and the course. “

(Sull’s suggestions are excerpted from Teaching Online with Errol: Personality DOES Matter in Teaching Online! Online Classroom (Oct. 2010): 6,7.)

Welcome to ScholarBlogs!

Hello and welcome to ScholarBlogs! This site will serve as home to a few of the Communication Exemplar activities presented to you though out the course. We hope that you will take this opportunity to experience blog-style posting, and also engage in the in-depth discussions that will occur in this communication medium.

Before you get started, take some time to read through the Posting Info page. Although this information is brief, it is critical in the way we organize our blog posts. Most importantly, please remember to:

1. Title your posts with the following format:  Week 2 – Parisi. If you would like to include a “snappier” title following that, it is okay—but please be sure to include the week and your last name.

2. Categorize your posts. This will help your fellow learners sort through discussion, but also help your instructors find your posts when it comes time for grading.

Again, welcome and we hope you make the most of this experience. We look forward to reading your posts and interacting with you!


Stephanie Parisi & Leah Chuchran